The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission is considering allowing bear hunting in three Western North Carolina sanctuaries. However, that plan has not been well received.

Officials estimate that there are between 7,000 and 8,000 bears in the state which is well above the ideal number of 4,400-4,900. This increase in animals has also elevated the number of encounters between humans and bears that have been reported. According to the NC Wildlife Commission “Currently there are approximately 490,000 acres of designated bear sanctuaries in North Carolina. North Carolina remains one of the only states that still has a system of designated sanctuaries.” The proposal (which you can read here) would allow permitted bear hunting this year in the sanctuaries of Panthertown, Standing Indian and Pisgah.

While the population growth of black bears in NC currently is around 6% officials hope to decrease that number to around 0%. The proposal though has not received a warm reception especially from groups such as Help Asheville Bears. The group poses the question of why the areas are referred to as “sanctuaries” if the animals can still be hunted and killed.

A meeting to further discuss the proposal, including comments from a recent town hall, is scheduled to take place on Feb. 24.

Current Bear Hunting Seasons In North Carolina:


Oct. 18 – Nov. 20 In and west of Surry, Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke, Cleveland.

Note: Further game land restrictions may apply. See the “Game Lands” section for specific game land rules.

Dec. 13 – Jan. 1, 2022


Oct. 16, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022 Franklin, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Moore, Richmond, Scotland, Vance, Wake, Warren
Nov. 13, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022 Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Caswell, Chatham, Davidson, Durham, Granville, Guilford, Lee, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanly, Union
Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022 Alexander, Catawba, Davie , Forsyth, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Stokes, Yadkin


Nov. 13 – Nov. 28 and Dec. 11 – Dec. 26, 2021 Zone 1: Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell
Nov. 13 – Nov. 21 and Dec. 11 – Dec. 26, 2021 Zone 2: Camden*, Chowan*, Currituck, Gates, Pasquotank*, Perquimans
Nov. 13 – Nov. 21 and Dec. 11 – Dec. 26, 2021 Zone 3: Beaufort, Bertie, Craven, Hertford, Jones, Martin, Washington
Nov. 20 – Dec. 19, 2021 Zone 4: Edgecombe, Greene, Halifax, Lenoir, Nash, Northampton, Pitt, Wayne, Wilson
Nov. 8, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022 Zone 5: Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico (use of dogs for hunting bears prohibited in this county), Pender, Robeson, Sampson

GALLERY: List of Animals Native to North Carolina

As found by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission