Black bear in a tree at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Black bear in a tree at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

A quick look at a map and it’s pretty clear the Outer Banks is right on the edge of the North American continent. What may not be as clear, though, is we’re right on the edge of one of the largest tract of wilderness on the East Coast.

As a consequence some interesting things wash up on our shores from the mainland from time to time.

Black bears are a good example of that.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and its close neighbor the Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge are home to one of the largest populations of black bear anywhere. Black bears, being good swimmers, from time to time one of them will take a dip in the waters of the Albemarle Sound and swim over to the Outer Banks.

Is a Black Bear Visiting?

There is no direct confirmation yet, but a fresh bear paw print was seen on the beach by Nags Head Woods.

With its dense forest, Nags Head Woods would be an ideal home for a black bear, although it’s doubtful if a bear would stay permanently there. Bears are remarkably adaptive and they are not shy about raiding trash cans, but they are typically shy animals and particularly wary of human contact.

If the bear stayed—and it is possible the he or she got to the beach, took a break and headed back to the water—it will probably wonder through the forest for a while, realize there are way too many humans around and head back across the sound.

The variable, of course, is if people begin to interact with the bear—give it food, as an example—it may become use to human activity. That can lead to some dangerous outcomes—it is a wild animal and bears typically weigh 200-400 pounds.

Still, as tales of how close to the nature the Outer Banks is, knowing a bear may be visiting is good know.

Have you made your fall reservations with Brindley Beach Vacations yet? Autumn is a wonderful time of the year on the Outer Banks.