In 2014, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission began allowing still-hunters to use natural bait the first six days of bear season in any county with a season.

Many bear hunters opposed the change in 2013, not only because they feared too many bears would be killed, but that many animals wouldn’t be recovered.

Eddie Frizzell, a member of the Southern Dismal Swamp Hunt Club, explained.

’“If you shoot a bear in its body, it’ll run off, often into a thicket, and its fur stops blood (trails). The only chance to drop a black bear in its tracks is to shoot it in the head. A heart-shot bear will run for a minute, and there’s no telling where it’ll go.”

During 2014, with the first six-day baiting season for still hunters, a huge mast crop curtailed bear movements, so the harvest decreased 16 percent to 2,521 in 2014.

“We didn’t see any major red flags from baiting,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Commission’s bear biologist.

With a normal mast crop in 2015, North Carolina’s bear harvest may increase. However, Olfenbuttel said she would need three seasons to determine the effect of the six-day baiting change.