I love that headline from the Virginia Department of Game. They get slightly more precise near the end of the release: Remember, if you live in Virginia, you live in bear country. Sounds a little hyperbolic, no? Check out this map on the VDGIF website
Click to expand or go look at the original page, but in a nutshell the aqua color indicates “occupied” and yellow indicates where there are occasional sightings. They’re nice enough to provide an item on the key for “rare/unoccupied” but there’s not an inch of it on the map.
Before you put on your coonskin cap and grab your musket, however, consider how poorly “occasional” is defined. The Virginia Black Bear Management Plan[pdf] makes the prospect of bear home invasion seem a lot less likely. The habitat picture is a lot more restrained:
That’s not to say folks in Loudoun and Fairfax should be too shocked if they come across a bear; The management plan says a male bear’s range can encompass 300 square miles. It’s about 50 miles as the crow flies out to Berryville, which sits firmly inside bear habitat. If it’s going to happen, this is the most likely time: the bears are pigging out as they try to regain weight they lost while hibernating.
If you’re one of our Virginia readers and you see one, stay the hell away. Even small bears can be dangerous and tiny ones often have larger ones nearby. The VDGIF webpage on living with bears (sounds like a San Francisco sitcom) offers more details and the video linked above.