Not everyone is lucky enough to earn the trust of a wild bear, such as this man. However, this momma bear not only trusted him, she proved it by introducing him to her first litter of cubs.Patrick Conley lives in Asheville, North Carolina, which is also the home to indigenous black bears. Over the years, one particular bear has come to visit Mr. Conley, who calls the bear his friend.
The bear is a radio-collared bear named Simone who is comfortable with Mr. Conley and even climbs up on his porch to say her bear-style hellos. Mr. Conley calls her his friend and feels privileged to experience the bear up close, over so much time.One day, Simone appeared on the steps of Mr. Conley’s porch, only this time she wasn’t alone.
The beautiful black bear had brought her first litter of cubs with her – two adorably tiny baby bears were following close behindLucky for us, Mr. Conley was home and able to video the sweet sight. First, momma bear carefully surveys the porch then leads her two cubs up onto the porch; just a proud bear momma showing off her kids to her special friend. Mr. Conley captioned his video.
“The cubs are the cutest things to ever have walked these woods, but then I’m kind of biased.”
Black bears are not an unusual sight in Ashville. However, most people are not fortunate enough to have a bear that they consider a friend. In 2014, a cooperative research study between North Carolina State University and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission was launched to help understand the local bears.
Between April 2014 and August 2018, 165 unique bears were captured, and another 80 bears were recaptured over the four years, for a total of 245 bear captures on private property. Researchers were able to track their movement, den sites, and take measurements of the bears.
The study found that bears made themselves quite comfortable across the city, with nearly 1 million sites over the four years and they don’t need to leave the city to den. They located 83 dens and found that the bears begin reproducing at age 3 or 4.
The largest bear captured was a 572-pound, 11-year-old male, on April 25, 2014, in East Asheville, who was not collared. On April 14, 2015, researchers captured a 526-pound, 8-year old male bear in southwest Asheville, who was collared.
Yearlings were relatively large, 1- to 1 ½-year-olds weighed from 186 up to 239 pounds. The largest female yearling bears weighed from 107 to 142 pounds. These bears were all much larger than bears living far from civilization.