GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Footage from one Upstate woman’s doorbell camera has gone viral, thanks to one wild guest.
Wendy Watson had an unexpected visitor Tuesday morning. She said a black bear came onto her porch and it was all caught on her doorbell camera.
Watson’s porch is where she typically spends her mornings appreciating nature, but on Tuesday she noticed something strange.
“I woke up and came to the kitchen to get my morning coffee. Looked out the window and noticed one of my bird feeders was not hanging, where it was when I went to bed that night,” Watson said. “I thought, ‘what happened?’ Came outside to look and it had been yanked down and was in two pieces on the ground, just because it came a part.”
“Looked around some more, and another feeder on another tree, across the driveway was damaged and a part of it was laying on the ground. So I thought, what did this,” Watson said.
Watson said she had a run in with raccoons before, and also said bears have been on her property as well.
“I thought, well maybe something showed up on the doorbell cam. So, I was sitting out on my porch, like I am now, drinking my morning coffee and started looking at my phone through my images and there was the bear,” Watson said.
She said black bears are known to be in her area, but this was a little different.
Her doorbell camera captured 30 seconds of a black bear, stretched tall on two legs peeping inside her door window.
“Shocked,” Watson said. “They’ve never been on the porch that I know of, and literally almost spit my coffee, because I’d always kind of like, ‘I’d like to see a bear.’ But that was a little too close.”
“They’re really scared of people and they don’t want encounters with people. So, I was very shocked that he did come up on the porch,” she said.
A spokesperson with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said black bears are shy and typically don’t like to be around humans.
“Black bears are, by their nature, very shy creatures and they really don’t like to be around humans,” said Greg Lucas, with DNR. “Where that changes is–where if they have been fed or offered food or can find food. It’s illegal in South Carolina to feed a black bear.”
“I haven’t ever seen a bear coming to one of those doorbell cams before. But we’ve seen lots of bears in various places,” Lucas said.
Lucas said bears are spotted all over the Upstate. He said they can be commonly seen almost any time of the year, except during the winter. He also said they’re likely looking for food.
“Bears are all over Upstate South Carolina,” Lucas explained. “In northern Greenville County, lots of black bear. And this time of year, bears are looking for something to eat. The acorns on the oak trees haven’t come in yet. I don’t know, I have a feeling with the drought that we’re in, we’re not getting as much berry production.”
“Blackberries and blueberries and the other fruits that bears enjoy. I have a feeling they’re just out looking for food,” said Lucas. “Bears are in all of Greenville County, Oconee County, and Pickens County particularly, They’re also found in some of the other Piedmont counties like Spartanburg County and Anderson County.”
Watson is the President of Wildlife Rehab of Greenville, and said she believes there’s another reason for seeing black bears in this area too.
“All of the construction with the razing of land and building neighborhoods and apartments and condos, it’s limiting their habitat,” Watson said. “So, they have no where else to go.”
So, what should you do the next time you see a black bear near your doorstep?
“If they don’t run, you can raise your voice. Raise your hands way up high over your head, and yell at them. You can throw rocks at them, that’s almost certainly going to send them on their way,” Lucas said.
However, Lucas said the first thing you want to do is back quietly away.
“To prevent encounters that you don’t want with a bear, don’t leave food out. For example, if you feed cats or something or have bird feeders, you can bring them in at night,” Watson said.
Lucas said it’s best to remove bird feeders altogether until the winter months.
“Black bears taking down bird feeders, that tells our biologists that everybody in that neighborhood needs to remove their birdfeeders,” Lucas said. “If everybody in that neighborhood would do that, those bears will move on.”
Lucas said it’s a good idea to wait until there’s cold weather to start feeding birds to avoid black bears.
“Keep your trash secured. That’s another big thing. Lock your car. Don’t leave food or food wrappers in your car. Bears have actually gotten into cars and they’ll wreck it,” Watson said. “Be aware of it. Keep your door locked, because they’re smart and they might open your door and come on inside. I mean who knows.”
SCDNR said Bear Wise is a great resource for how to live with black bears.
You can also learn more about black bears on SCDNR’s website.