A poor acorn crop in the higher elevations has led to more bear sightings in western North Carollna valleys, with experts saying the increased activity likely will last into the winter.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports bears were sighted Wednesday at Asheville High School, which led officials to order a lockdown. Another bear was spotted in West Asheville, and a bear cub was hit by a car on Interstate 26 south of Asheville.
Biologist Mike Carraway of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said there's been an increase in bear sightings in the last month and especially in the last week.
Bears are migrating into valley locations because of more plentiful food as they seek to fatten up before winter hibernation. Carraway blames the poor acorn crop on excessive rain.
"There is a lack of natural food sources up in the mountains, particularly acorns," Carraway said. "But in the lower elevations we have quite a few acorns, especially white oak acorns. We expect to see a lot of bear activity in residential areas this fall. I would just remind people to remove food sources and trash."