Black bear in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Black bear in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

A black bear has been seen in Nags Head Woods. It seems like almost an annual event.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a rite of passage for bears. They hit a certain age and the challenge to join the bear clan is to swim across the Albemarle Sound from East Lake to the Outer Banks.

To allay any fears about running into a bear in Nags Head Woods, it seems to be just one. And—black bears are actually pretty shy and not too anxious to meet people.

There’s a good reason why a bear would show up in Nags Head Woods, or some other forested area of the Outer Banks.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, which is the Dare County mainland, has one of the largest, if not the largest, populations of black bear in North America.

How did the Black Bear Get Here?

The off the cuff comment about the bear swimming across Albemarle Sound is probably what happened. Bears are very good swimmers, and the sound is shallow enough that a bear could wade for much of the crossing.

In the past the bears that have visited the area haven’t stayed around. Kind of an accidental tourist, perhaps.

It’s guesswork about why the bears have not stayed in the past. The two reasons that are most likely are, even in a densely wooded area like Nags Head Woods, there are a lot of people around. Generally speaking black bears try to avoid humans.

The other reason, and it may be the more likely—there’s not a lot of food for them here.

If people don’t fasten their trash can lids or leave pet food outside, that could change things…which is why Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head have been warning people about leaving food out.

It is a reminder, though, that even with all our visitors filling our roads and beaches, one of the best things about the Outer Banks is how close nature is to everything we do.

Fall is coming. Have you made your autumn getaway plans with Brindley Beach Vacations yet?