Black bear ...

Photo by CNHI News W.Va.

West Virginia residents who live near areas usually inhabited by black bears may get a phone call in the coming weeks.

BLUEFIELD — West Virginia residents who live near areas usually inhabited by black bears may get a phone call in the coming weeks.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is conducting a scientific study on black bears and black bear management that will involve telephone surveys of residents.

DNR hired the research firm Responsive Management to conduct the study, which involves a brief telephone survey about black bears and black bear management.

Residents will be selected at random, which is necessary to maintain a scientifically valid study. DNR asks West Virginia residents who receive a call at home or on their cell phone to consider taking part in the study.

Officials said in a press release that the study results will help DNR better understand state residents’ opinions on issues related to black bears.

Residents may also receive a text message with a link to the survey.

This study builds on previous surveys that assessed attitudes about black bears that the WVDNR and Responsive Management conducted in 2017, 2012 and 2006.

The study will include an analysis of trends in opinions and attitudes. The data will then be used to update the state’s Black Bear Management Plan.

Headquartered in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Responsive Management is an internationally-recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm.

The company specializes in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues and has a mission to help natural resource and outdoor recreation agencies and organizations better understand and work with their constituents, customers and the public.

Black bear sightings in the region are common, particularly in the deep south counties of southern West Virginia.

The state DNR encourages people to secure their garbage and take down their bird feeders, particularly in areas where bears have been sighted.

The peak of nuisance bear activity in West Virginia occurs in May and June when natural food sources are scarce, according to DNR officials.

High-energy foods, such as serviceberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries do not become available until later in the summer, which is why hungry black bears can be found in residential areas in the spring.

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