Virginia Bear Population On The Rise

State releases video to teach bear safety

VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries hopes a new video will educate Valley residents about bears and the dangers they can pose to those who encounter them.

A Rockingham County man who survived a bear attack says the effort is worthwhile.

"Any knowledge that can be passed on to the people will be helpful," said W. Thurman Hensley, a victim of a mauling by a black bear 18 months ago near Grottoes.

The state game department has produced an online video featuring tips on how to reduce the risk of getting hurt during an encounter with a black bear. The video is available at

According to a Farm Bureau report, the black bear population, along with the potential hazard they pose to hunters, farmers and other residents, as well as cash crops, is on the rise in Virginia.

The growing encroachment of residential developments into forested lands also increases the chance of bear-human interaction, game officials say.

Bears are by nature shy creatures that want to stay away from humans whenever possible, experts say. In fact, most of the time, bears will run away if they see a human. But under the right circumstances - when a bear feels threatened or is startled, for instance - they can attack, game officials say.

While the black bear is much smaller than the its better-known cousin, the grizzly, many people don't realize just how powerful they are.

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