A growing black bear population in North Carolina has led to new regulations that allow bear hunting in all Piedmont counties.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission voted Wednesday in favor of a proposal that establishes a Piedmont bear hunting season.
State officials say it will help maintain a healthy bear population in North Carolina.
The decision comes after a series of community meetings and research by biologists.
North Carolina Wildlife Biologist Ann May says the new rules will also help control human encounters with bears.
“Their [bear] population has increased over the last 30 years increasing about 6 percent a year and they are naturally expanding their range,” May explained. “Hunting is the method of managing population numbers.”
Allowing hunting in the Piedmont is supported under the state’s 10-year Black Bear Management Plan.
The Commission also decided Wednesday to allow hunters without dogs to use unprocessed food to bait bears so long as it’s on private land. Hunters will not be able to kill bears while they eat.
The new regulations will take effect August 1st, 2014.
A spokesperson for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says final 2014-2015 bear hunting season dates will be announced in August.