BearWise helps people live responsibly with black bears

Who We Are is a regional program based in the southeastern U.S. that shares ways to prevent conflicts, provides resources to resolve problems, and encourages community initiatives to keep bears wild. is supported by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), an organization whose members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The 6 BearWise Basics


Never feed or approach bears

Feeding bears (intentionally or unintentionally) trains them to approach homes and people for more food. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs!


Secure food, garbage and recycling

Food and food odors attract bears so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage.


Remove bird feeders when bears are active

Birdseed and other grains have a high calorie content making them very attractive to bears. The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is to remove feeders.


Never leave pet food out

Feed outdoor pets portion sizes that will be completely eaten during each meal and then remove leftover food and food bowl. Securely store these foods so nothing is available to bears.


Clean and store grills

After you use an outdoor grill, clean it thoroughly and make sure that all grease and fat is removed. Store cleaned grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.


Let neighbors know

Share news with your friends and neighbors about recent bear activity and how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people; are you willing to adapt to living near bears?

Black bear range in Southeastern U.S. is expanding

Black bears once roamed all the forested lands of the contiguous lower 48 states. After European settlement, their numbers and habitat dwindled.


Thanks to conservation and management efforts, black bears are making a dramatic comeback in the Southeast. As bears expand into areas with suitable habitat, it is important for communities to learn how to coexist with them.

Current black bear range in Southeastern U.S., 2016

Current Black Bear Territories