HomeOutdoorsNewsNorth Carolina Woman Hears ‘Dying Dog,’ Discovers Massive Bear Denning in Her Backyard

North Carolina Woman Hears ‘Dying Dog,’ Discovers Massive Bear Denning in Her Backyard

by Taylor Cunningham
Robert Mullen / 500px

An Asheville, North Carolina woman will be sharing her home with a massive black bear this winter.

Casey Vandergrift contacted Help Asheville Bears (HAB) this week after discovering the animal denning in her backyard. In the days before, she had been hearing strange noises that she thought were coming from a “dying dog.” But when she went to investigate, she found the bear inside a dwelling made of thick brush and kudzu.

“It was a very big surprise because I had my headlamp on and I was romping through the brush, looking for a dog,” she told the organization. “And then it was two giant eyeballs, like, giant skull of a bear.”

Vandergrift called HAB because she thought the animal was hurt. But she later learned that it is doing well and may be preparing to give birth next month.

“It was the absolute perfect spot for a bear to den up,” Jody Williams, founder of HAB said.

Williams added that pregnant sows typically den up before males, which is why he believes she’s expecting cubs.

Asheville Resident is Letting the Bear Stay in its New Den

Vandergrift explained that she has a large plot of land tucked inside a dense neighborhood, so the sow likely saw the wide open space as an oasis. Now that the den is built, she doesn’t have the heart to ask wildlife officials to remove it.

“[The land] was hers before it was mine,” she said.

“Casey Vandergrift did such an amazing job in peacefully coexisting with her brand new ‘neighbor’ and she is letting the bear stay and keep her cozy little home in Casey’s yard. We want to thank Casey for wanting to do what’s best for the bear and thank you to Casey and all of you bear protectors out there for caring for our precious bears and wildlife!” the organization wrote on Facebook.

HAB aims to protect the local bear population by offering resources to animals in need and teaching the public how to peacefully live alongside the predators.

In the coming weeks, Williams and other staff members will monitor the denning animal. They will continue to update their social media followers., and they hope to share news of cubs very soon.

“We strongly believe that sharing general bear education as well as stories such as this bear making a den is an incredibly important part of helping the community get to know and become familiar with the bears in our own backyards,” said HAB member Adam McMillian. “Having a better understanding of them is so key to peacefully coexisting with them — and all wildlife for that matter.”