ASHEVILLE — Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have announced the first business and first recreation area to be recognized as BearWise in North Carolina.
BearWise is a national program that shares ways to prevent conflicts with black bears, provides resources to resolve problems with black bears and encourages community initiatives to keep black bears wild. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Camp Merrie-Woode have both taken the pledge to be BearWise, and it shows in their commitment.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River is the state’s first BearWise business and the country’s first BearWise brewery. The brewery’s leadership was recognized with official signage on June 9. As a BearWise Business, they have committed to secure trash and compost, limit potential attractants and serve as ambassadors to the surrounding community. Sierra Nevada switched to bear-resistant containers all over their campus and secured dumpsters and waste storage. They will also include BearWise messaging in their brewery tours when they resume.
Camp Merrie-Woode is a youth summer camp in the Cashiers area and the first BearWise Recreation Area in the state (and country) as of June. They also received official signage and committed to install bear-resistant trash enclosures around their camp, rearrange camp sites for better food storage and train counselors and staff annually on bear safety.
BearWise Businesses and recreational areas are similar to BearWise Communities, which are growing in North Carolina. The first four BearWise communities established in western North Carolina include Highlands, Mountain Meadows I & Mountain Meadows II (Asheville) and Black Mountain Neighborhood.
Learn more about how to become a recognized BearWise community or business at the Wildlife Commission website and BearWise.org.