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The farmer and the bear battle it out over peanuts at harvest time in eastern North Carolina

Bear eating peanuts screenshot of video provided by Kirk Tice.png
(Screenshot of video provided by Kirk Tice)
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Just this week, about a quarter-acre of Bertie County farmer Kirk Tice’s peanut crop has lined the bellies of bears working to fatten up for the winter.

North Carolina one of the largest peanut-producing states in the U.S., but eastern North Carolina farmers have some four-legged, fierce competition for the popular legumes.

Bertie County Farmer Kirk Tice said it’s harvest time, and it’s again a race between the farmer and the black bear on his farm this week.

“They’ll tear a streak up now,” he said, “They don’t just sit in one little spot; they’ll eat as far as they can pull. They’ll sit down there on their hind end and they’ll shove up there like a grownup will.”

Just this week, about a quarter-acre of Tice’s peanut crop has lined the bellies of bears working to fatten up for the winter.

While North Carolina Wildlife officials have offered solutions like fences, targeted planting and others to keep animals from eating the peanuts, he said that would also be costly and wouldn’t work anyway.

“You can run barbed wire fence, you can do anything you want to, if a bear wants a peanut, they’re going to get a peanut. Or, you know, deer, whatever,” he said, and added, “You know, Trump tried to put a wall down at the border. Did that work? No.”

While the bears are, as Tice called them, a nuisance, Bertie County remains in a moderate drought and he said that’s been more impactful to not just his peanut crop but all field crops this year.

“The dry weather’s been worse than the bears and the deer, I’ll put it like that,” he said.

Tice said rainfall is one of the most important elements in farming.

“What makes a farmer a good farmer is the rainfall,” Tice said, “If you get the rain at the right time it’s going to make you look like you’re a right good farmer.”

North Carolina is the fifth-largest peanut-producing state, and the crop contributed more than $104 million dollars in cash receipts – or three percent -- of the state’s $3.4 billion dollars in cash crops.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.