Bear spotting in Clarke County is a lot like real estate; location, location, location. While many people who live on the mountain see them frequently, other county resident’s encounters are limited to infrequent and momentary run-ins with the wild beasts. These typically range from road crossings to unexpected encounters under floodlights. Occasionally, they are even seen in town. In June of 2010 a young black bear was repeatedly seen foraging in the Hermitage neighborhood of Berryville.
Regardless of the frequency or duration, almost everyone in Clarke has at least one bear tale to tell. Just the mention of a bear sighting at a social gathering in Clarke County will generate a chorus of accounts from all manner of people who have had run-ins of one type or another.
One such series of encounters recently came to us from a resident who lives off Route 601 on the mountain. Les Querry shared his experience with the bears saying, “We have frequent bear visits on the Blue Ridge, many unseen, only evidenced by the torn-down bird feeders, large claw marks on outside stairs or muddy paw prints on windows.” Mr Querry provided a series of photos in which he captured several visits by bears during broad daylight.
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Black bears are the most common and widespread of the 3 bear species in North America and typically do not pose a threat to humans but can be dangerous under circumstances involving cubs or food.
The best way to prevent encounters with bears and other wildlife is to remove food sources:
- Remove any bird feeders from property (including empty feeders)
- Keep all pet foods inside.
- Keep garage doors shut to limit access to potential food sources.
- Do not place trash receptacles curbside until the morning trash collection day
- Clean and close barbeque grills after each use.
- Do not leave any food particles or left-overs on the grill overnight
More information about living with bears is available on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at http://www.vdgifvirginia.gov