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    Many hikers have some kind of bear story, but not many can top Gabe Alexander’s. Last year, the 16 year old was dragged out of his hammock by a bear and mauled severely before his father chased the bear away. The number of human-bear encounters are increasing as human development encroaches upon bear habitat. How can we safely co-exist with bears in our Blue Ridge backyard? Bear populations have rebounded in the past few decades. Should bear hunting play a role in controlling their numbers? We talk with bear hunters, wildlife officials, and law enforcement about Operation Something Bruin—a three-state sting which nabbed a widespread poaching ring but was criticized by some politicians and locals. An important long-term study is examining ways in which bears and humans can share space in the South. Our exclusive video from North Carolina’s Urban-Suburban Bear Study shows wild bears co-existing amid human development and offers hope—and helpful hints—for living amid bear country.