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RALEIGH, N.C. (June 8) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s documentary on black bears in North Carolina will make its western North Carolina broadcast premiere this month.

The 30-minute documentary, The Bear Facts, The Story of a North Carolina Treasure, will be telecast on CBS affiliate WSPA-channel 7, Spartanburg, S.C., on Saturday, June 25 at 1 p.m. The film features bear footage from the mountains and coastal plain. Mark Jones, the Wildlife Commission’s black bear biologist, wrote and directed the award-winning documentary, which took three years to produce. It consists of five segments: history and biology of black bears; research and monitoring; coexisting with bears; hunting traditions; and the future of black bears in North Carolina.

“This is an important documentary for western North Carolina residents because 80 percent of North Carolina’s incidents involving bear-and-human interactions occur in the mountains,” Jones said. “With cities like Asheville and retirement communities spread throughout the mountains, you have a lot of people surrounded by a lot of bear habitat.”

North Carolina statistics about interactions between bears and humans belie underlying bear population numbers. The state’s coastal bear population is actually larger than its mountain bear population, Jones said, but the coastal bear population has stabilized while the mountain bear population is still growing.

“Bears are coming into increasing contact with people throughout the mountain region, and most of these problems are the result of people allowing bears to eat garbage, bird food and pet food,” Jones said. “A bear that becomes used to eating food provided by humans can become dangerous, and often it will end up dead from human causes.”

WSPA, which serves more than 800,000 households in North and South Carolina, can be seen in 14 of North Carolina’s western counties: Graham, Swain, Macon, Jackson, Transylvania, Haywood, Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, Yancey, Mitchell, McDowell, Rutherford and Polk.
The Wildlife Commission is negotiating with other television outlets to broadcast the documentary in other areas in North Carolina. The Commission also is contacting schools to provide educational copies of the documentary.

“We’ll post updates on our Web site (www.ncwildlife.org) as we negotiate additional TV coverage in the future and in other parts of North Carolina,” Jones said. “We’re also seeking a corporate partnership to defray production costs and allow us to provide complimentary copies to schools and libraries.”

Copies of the film can be purchased on VHS or DVD through the Wildlife Commission’s WILD Store. Call toll-free (866) 945-3746, or log onto the Commission’s Web site. Additional information about black bears, including a brochure that Jones updates annually, is available on the site.

 
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