Charlotte, NC (AP) – This summer’s persistent, heavy rains may be the reason behind increased bear sightings in the North Carolina mountains.

The Charlotte Observer reports North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission biologist Mike Carraway says pounding rains that have flooded parts of the mountains in recent weeks have delayed berries and other bear food from ripening.

Bears searching neighborhoods for food inside cars and trash bins have been captured on video and shared on social media.

Carraway says growing populations also may explain the close contacts between bears and people.

He says western North Carolina’s bear population has increased for 25 to 30 years and now numbers about 6,000 to 8,000. The region’s human population has increased sharply during the same period.