Sightings of wildlife such as coyotes and bears in Craven County


Sightings of wildlife in Craven County are nothing new, especially in the fall or winter when searching for a food source, experts say.

But when is it appropriate to report a sighting of wildlife such as a coyote, black bear, deer or fox?

Here’s when to report wildlife and how to stay safe around them, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.

Not every wildlife sighting needs to be reported

A recent Facebook post on the Trent Woods Police Department page indicated that coyotes may be in the area.

“We had some sightings,” said Chief Tony Lee of the Trent Woods Police Department. “It’s not something we see all the time. We know there are probably a few coyotes around town based on what people have told us.”

There have been two reports in the span of about a month, but if you leave wild animals such as a coyote alone, they will eventually switch to other food options, Lee said.

If a wild animal is acting intoxicated, tripping, falling, circling, or exhibiting any type of illness, report it, said Chris Kent, North Carolina District 2 wildlife biologist.

“Raccoons and foxes are a good example,” Kent said. “They are very susceptible to rabies and distemper.”

In this case, a wildlife law enforcement officer will come out if the situation needs to be addressed immediately.

Each wild animal can be reported for different reasons.

Coyotes, for example, sometimes prey on livestock and pets, according to the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Report a coyote sighting if:

  • Animal does not respond to direct hazing or acts aggressively for no reason
  • He is suspected of having rabies
  • He is engaged in a threatening or dangerous activity
  • He has lost his natural distrust of people and fails to run away when he is around people

“There are some rare animals in eastern North Carolina that would definitely warrant a sighting, like a weasel,” Kent said.

Rare animals such as weasels, diamondback rattlesnakes and coral snakes are worth noting due to their small populations.

To learn more about when to report the hundreds of other wildlife in North Carolina, visit

What time of year can wildlife sightings increase?

Coyote puppies or other wildlife are usually born in the spring. For example, sightings of adult wildlife could peak in late September through early or mid-November.

“They leave their mother and father and disperse to establish their own territory and home range,” Kent said. “Sometimes they can disperse for hundreds of kilometers.”

Although late fall is the peak time for wildlife viewing, it is seen year round in eastern North Carolina.

At this time of year, black bears are more frequently struck by cars.  Wildlife sightings peak from late September to early through mid-November, according to wildlife officials.

Wildlife conflicts and how to avoid them

People often have conflicts with wildlife damaging their property or coming onto the property and scaring them off.

The peak of conflict with wildlife is seen from April to August, as most species have babies and are foraging, Kent said.

“Unfortunately, many times people with a problem with wildlife actually create this problem and don’t even know it because of the food sources available,” he said.

There is a healthy black bear population in Craven County and Kent said he is training people to remove their bird feeders.

Removing the food source could eliminate 90% of black bear conflict in Craven County.

Other measures to avoid conflict with wildlife are as follows:

  • Do not feed the wildlife
  • Do not leave pet food outside
  • Attract birds with natural foods
  • Close crawl spaces and openings
  • Cut tree branches
  • Protect gardens, beehives and chickens with fences.
  • Keep small pets confined, leashed or supervised outside.

“If people understand how to avoid conflict with them,” Kent said. “There is no reason in the world that we cannot live in perfect harmony with our black bears here on the coast. They are not threatening.”

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