Take a Stroll Through Black Bear Territory, July 16

black bear
Join North Carolina Wildlife Federation on July 16 in Pantego, N.C., for a stroll through a wildlife refuge that supports one of the densest populations of black bears ever reported. Photo credit: Cassia Rivera.

For some people, having to wake up before sunrise on a Saturday to go take a walk is a real bear, but for nature and wildlife lovers, it’s a rare chance to catch a glimpse of one. Join North Carolina Wildlife Federation on July 16 in Pantego, N.C., for a stroll through a wildlife refuge that supports one of the densest populations of black bears ever reported.

NCWF biologist and Refuge Volunteer and Programs Coordinator Katerina Ramos will guide participants from 7 to 10 a.m. on A Stroll Through Bear Territory at the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The sprawling coastal refuge in North Carolina’s Inner Banks on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula boasts a high density and population of black bears often seen in agricultural fields and adjacent forests.

black bear

Photo credit: Scott Ridenhour 

In addition to being black bear territory, Pocosin Lakes is home to red wolves, otters, bobcats, sandhill cranes. It’s also an overwintering home to vast flocks of snow geese, tundra swan, red-winged blackbirds and other migrating waterfowl.

“Eastern North Carolina is known for its wetland habitat, so most of the summer is very humid and buggy. I encourage everyone to wear light clothing and bring bug spray and plenty of water, so you don’t get dehydrated,” Ramos said. 

She added, “And, of course, bring your cameras or binoculars if you have them. Black bears and their habitat exemplify our state’s magnificent wild lives and wild places, and this event is a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitat.”

Black bear

Photo credit: Cassia Rivera

Unique wildlife and habitat opportunities like A Stroll Through Bear Territory are the inspiration behind N.C. Wildlife Federation’s Walks on the Wild Side events. They’re a way for people of all ages to engage in outdoor adventures with experts and mentors who enjoy sharing their passion and excitement for the wonders of the natural world. Register here.

The Bear Facts

  • Black bears have 42 teeth, compared to humans’ 32 (28 if no wisdom teeth), which support their omnivorous diet.
  • Black bears have a wide array of vocalizations with 11 different communication sounds, including barking, grunting, moans, roars and purrs.
  • The current world record heaviest black bear is an 880-pound bear from Craven County in 1998.
  • Black bears have climbing abilities and may run up to 35 miles per hour.
  • Delayed implantation is a biological mechanism that allows bears to take advantage of resource availability. When food is abundant, more bears will be born. When there is a lack of abundant food sources, female bears will not reproduce every two years, but alternatively, every three to four years. 

Upcoming Walks on the Wild Side

Where the Wildflowers Grow: Native Butterfly Walk

9-11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. Come to Pilot Mountain State Park to learn about native butterfly species with Ranger Maggie Miller. You will walk a mowed path that is part of the Rosalyn Carter Butterfly Trail (approximately 1.0-miles each way). This path is an exceptional place to see native grasses, wildflowers and six-legged species.

Spend the walk learning to identify insects and about an extraordinary migrator, the monarch butterfly. Ranger Maggie is the Interpretation and Education Ranger at Pilot Mountain State Park. Her passion lies in protecting public lands, the wildlife that calls them home and providing education to visitors. Register here.

Fins and Fens

10 a.m. to noon Friday, Nov. 4. In the middle of Pisgah National Forest lies 100 private acres that have been protected for nearly 80 years. The property owner will take us on a walk that showcases the efforts of an individual who has devoted his life to protecting and restoring wildlife habitat. This hike is appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Over a mile of pristine waters have been carefully managed so that, once again, people may have the opportunity to see wild salmonids create their redds in a streambed. Mountain bogs were also commonplace for early pioneers but are now considered one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country. An elevated walkway allows visitors access to explore one of these sensitive areas, and there is an ongoing effort to restore the native flora and fauna within.

Along our path, we will also view century-old conifers in the surrounding forest, relax in a peaceful meadow, tour a historic log cabin (circa the 1850s), and enjoy many other special features unique to this property. Our guide, Chris Holler has a degree in fish and wildlife management and is a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited, N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation (lifetime), an N.C. Lifetime Sportsman and member of the National Speleological Society. Register here.

Recent News and Blogs