Word from the Smokies: Smokies cities make strides toward ensuring bear, human safety with new trash bins

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an estimated 1,900 black bears — about two per square mile — with more than 14,500 of these iconic mammals roaming the four-state mountain region.

Wildlife Commission approves bear season expansion, deer season shift

During its Feb. 22 meeting, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission voted to adopt a slate of proposed rule changes for the coming year, including a pair of controversial measures that will shift the season dates for white-tailed deer and significantly expand the season length for black bear in the mountain region. 

Bear boxes replacing cables at some A.T. shelters

Trekking through fresh snowfall on the Appalachian Trail, Carolina Mountain Club volunteers and U.S. Forest Service staff installed a new bear box at Little Laurel Shelter — part of a larger CMC initiative to replace traditional bear cables with boxes at each of the 10 A.T. shelters the club maintains. 

NCDOT Provides Free Bicycle Helmets

Applications are open to receive free bicycle helmets from the N.C. Department of Transportation. 

Seat belt use encouraged during Child Passenger Safety Week

State and local officials are reminding people during “Child Passenger Safety Week” to buckle up their youngest passengers because car crashes are still a leading cause of death for most children. 

The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the N.C. Department of Insurance, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Safe Kids NC and others hosted a press conference in Greenville on Monday to underscore the importance of child passenger safety. During the child passenger safety clinic, experts also demonstrated how to properly install car seats. 

Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed Sept. 17-23 as “Child Passenger Safety Week” in North Carolina.

While car seats and boosters provide crash protection for infants and children, car crashes are still a leading cause of death for children between 1 and 13 years old. According to Safe Kids North Carolina, nearly 100 children under age 14 die annually from vehicle-related crashes, and about 45,000 minors are injured and need medical treatment.

More than 3,000 nationally certified child passenger safety technicians across the state teach parents and caregivers how to properly install car seats in their vehicles. Thanks to these and other child safety efforts, North Carolina maintains its position as having one of the nation’s strongest programs promoting child passenger safety.

For more information, visit NCDOT’s webpage on child passenger safety.

Be prepared outdoors

Learn how to stay safe in the woods with a course 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at Standing Rock Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Jackson faces safety funding requests

The Jackson County Commission is faced with several requests to fund safety operations throughout the county, totaling over $1.5 million. For taxpayers, this could mean over a penny on the tax rate.

Poor acorn crop leads to increased bear encounters

A nighttime breath of fresh air turned traumatic for 75-year-old Swannanoa resident Toni Rhegness when she spotted three bear cubs while walking her dog on leash in her front yard Sept. 18.

While Rhegness followed important bear safety rules at her own home — not leaving trash outside and keeping her dog leashed, for starters — her neighbor had left garbage cans outside for pickup the next morning, and the cubs were scavenging them for a meal. Seeing the cubs, the dog barked. Rhegness shouted to scare the bears off and picked up her dog to go inside.

NRA grants help local students learn safety

Recent efforts to enhance student safety by placing armed volunteers in the nation’s schools have resulted in predictable blowback from anti-gun activists, some of whom have claimed it’s an attempt by the National Rifle Association to indoctrinate impressionable young minds with pro-gun propaganda. 

Students talk safety: Jackson’s high school students share insights

Hours after students in schools across the nation walked out of their classrooms to protest gun violence in American schools, students leaders in Jackson County’s high schools walked into the auditorium of Smoky Mountain High School to deliver their thoughts on the topic to a gathering that included the entire Board of Education and Board of County Commissioners. 

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