Charles and Charlotte Gilmore of Pisgah Forest had previously seen and dealt with local black bears being curious and poking their heads around their property, but the evening of May 25 was different because the situation involved a bear walking on the roof of their house before it left a short time later.
“A young black bear had climbed our Serviceberry tree to munch on the ripe berries (and) the limb did not hold and deposited the bear on our roof,” Charles said.
Upon seeing this peculiar sight, Gilmore said his main focus was simply to capture the event on camera. “(I grabbed) my camera and a long lens to record a once in a lifetime experience,” he explained. “My wife thought I was a bit on the crazy side.”
Bears are not an uncommon sight in Transylvania County at this time of the year and Gilmore said he had seen these wild animals in the area before.
“(We’ve had) bears on our decks, on our property, while walking the dog, while driving one slid down a slope in front of me and landed in the middle of the road,” he said.
“And once, when working in a remote location, I came face to face with one that wondered what I was doing, I followed the standard advice and made myself as large as possible, it backed away and walked up the path it had used to Encounter me, all the time looking over its shoulder to be sure that I was not going to give it trouble.”
When it came to this latest close encounter, Gilmore and his wife were at a bit of loss on what to do with the bear on the roof.
They initially attempted to contact local animal control, but according to Charles the office was closed for the day and would not reopen until the next morning.
As such, the next step was to call the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
The Gilmores said the Wildlife agent they spoke with suggested setting up a ladder adjacent to the roof and leaving the bear alone. “(They) thought that after a while it would grow calm and use the ladder to climb down,” Gilmore said.
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission website has some helpful suggestions for anyone encountering black bears in the wild or elsewhere.
Officials make it clear bears wandering into yards or around homes “may be dispersing through your neighborhood or searching for a mate” and add the animal will not stay in a given area unless it finds a reliable food source.
If a bear is spotted, the website stresses it is important to stay calm: “If you are one of the lucky people to have encountered the bear, observe it at a safe distance and appreciate the opportunity to see one of North Carolina’s largest native mammals .”
If the bear spots you, do not run away. NC Wildlife advises it is important to make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, clapping your hands, waving your arms above your head to make yourself look bigger while making a lot of noise.
Experts suggest the next necessary steps are to back up and slowly, walk away, keep children nearby and in sight, keep pets locked up and do not attempt to approach, surround or corner the animal.
The website additionally explains when meeting a bear at close range to never feed it, even if it looks hungry or tame.
Additional precautions should be taken not to feed bears accidentally as bears are attracted to garbage, food scraps, pet food and many other forms of human food.
Keep such foods locked away from bears in strong, safe places.
Bears wandeingr into a residential area are sometimes frightened by dogs or residents, prompting the animals to climb trees, or as in this case sometimes even the roofs of houses.
Keep people away from the scene and the bear will come down and leave when it no longer feels threatened or once the area becomes dark.