Strange Black Bear Photos Show Animal Standing Like a Man in North Carolina


Two college students came across a black bear standing in a strangely human-like pose on Sunday in North Carolina.

Erin McAllister and her boyfriend Zachary Allen—both of whom are studying at East Carolina University—were exploring Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Hyde County in the hope of seeing some bears when the encounter occurred.

The couple were driving down a road in the refuge when they spotted the bear standing in the unusual position.READ MORE


While bears are known to stand on two legs, the couple said something seemed strange about its posture. Allen captured some eerie images of the bear, which McAllister then posted on Facebook.

“To be honest, when we both first saw it, we weren’t even sure it was real! It was standing so still and stoically,” McAllister told Newsweek.

“We had both never seen black bears in the wild before—but my boyfriend had seen some at the zoo in Grandfather Mountain, and could tell right away that the bear in that standing position seemed kind of unnatural and odd.”

The couple said they suspected the bear in question was relatively young, estimating that it stood at around five feet tall on its hind legs. According to McAllister, the animal stood “very still” as the couple slowly crept up towards it in their car on a dirt road.NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >

“He seemed wholly unbothered by us, and aside from a slight glance our direction, continued on looking towards the opposing forest on the other side of the road,” McAllister said.

“It was after a few minutes that I noticed a group of three similarly sized black bears run in front of our car, across from their side of the road, into the forest near the standing bear. Once this standing bear saw them—what we assume were friends, he quickly lowered himself back onto all fours, and ran off into the woods to meet them! We like to interpret this whole experience as the standing bear looking for his friends.”

McAllister said the bear stood in that position for close to 10 minutes, in total. She posted the strange images of the bear to a Facebook group called Carolina Critters, causing quite a reaction.

Several Facebook users commented that the animal looked like a man in a bear suit.

Meanwhile, one user, Brentley Norman, said: “Thought it was Bigfoot!”

Another user, Lisa Smoot Motley, said: “What great posture!! Some of the slouchy teenagers I’ve seen should take lessons!”

McAllister said the reaction to the pictures had been “overwhelming and exciting.”

“There are many people in this state who are passionate about wildlife, so it was no shock to me that they were as intrigued by the pictures as we were when we saw them in person.”

A black bear in North Carolina
A black bear standing in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina.ZACHARY ALLEN/ERIN MCALLISTER

Loggerhead sea turtle run over by vehicle while laying eggs at Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach


CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. (WAVY) — A loggerhead sea turtle was believed to have been run over by a vehicle early Monday morning at Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach while it was nesting. The incident happened at a time when the beach is closed to vehicles.

Staff found the dead sea turtle on the beach around 5:30 a.m., about 0.10 miles south of Ramp 49 in Frisco.

Officials believe the female sea turtle came onto the beach to lay a nest in the sand. Then, they say a vehicle struck and ran over the turtle as she was laying her eggs.

Eggs, which were still intact, were discovered near the turtle.

The seashore is seeking information about a vehicle driving on the beach at Ramps 49 or 48 in Frisco between 9 p.m. on May 24 and 5:30 a.m. Monday, May 25.

Anyone with information that may help determine the circumstances and events that led to the death of this sea turtle is asked to contact the Dare County Community Crime Line or the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch (ISB)

National Park Service ISB Tip Line:

  • Call or text the ISB Tip Line at 888-653-0009
  • Online at and click “Submit a Tip”

“At this time of year, ocean-facing off road vehicle ramps are closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for an important reason – to protect nesting sea turtles. It is very unfortunate that a vehicle appears to have disregarded the Seashore’s regulations which has resulted in this turtle death,” stated Superintendent David Hallac.

Ramp 49, along with other priority off-road vehicle ramps (ramps 2, 4, 25, 27, 43, 44, 48, 49, 70, and 72), are closed to vehicles nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

All other ocean-facing off-road vehicle ramps are closed to vehicles from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Visitors are reminded that sea turtles, while predominately nesting during nighttime hours, may be present on seashore beaches at any hour of the day.

People obey North Carolina city’s ‘stay home’ order, black bear ignores it

This bear took advantage of an empty downtown Asheville on Thursday, using the opportunity to explore. (Photo: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) – It was a quiet afternoon in downtown Asheville on Thursday. The streets were mostly empty with very few people out and about.

One visitor took advantage of an empty downtown and used it as an opportunity to explore. A black bear wandered the streets as a few remaining workers watched.

“Wow, a bear in downtown Asheville. I never thought I’d see the day, ” said Tamara Hardy, who is classified as an essential worker.

A block away, two courthouse workers were eating lunch with a safe six-foot distance between them.

“Yes, we are trying to do our best to social distance,” Jenna Walley said.

Both said they think people are taking orders to stay at home seriously.

“There’s hardly anyone on the road, at least when I am driving in and out,” Tim Henderson said. “That makes the commute outstanding.”

Both agree it would be nice to see a bustling downtown area again, but that can only happen one way.

“Maintain these social distancing guidelines. Everyone should do that so eventually we can come back out,” Henderson said.

“Please stay home. It’s important for the health of the community and other people that are at risk and certainly the hospitals,” Walley said.

That message was echoed by county leaders.

“If you don’t have an urgent or pressing need to be out, you need to be at home,” BunCombe County’s Eric Barnes said during a Thursday afternoon update.

County officials believe that, generally, people are following the guidelines for social distancing.

“I would say that most people are following this guidance,” said Jennifer Mullendore, of Buncombe County Health and Human Services. “I see couples out for walks. I see families walking their dogs. I don’t see a lot of people congregating.”

The city closed all parks last week. City workers have gone as far as removing netting from basketball hoops to discourage people from congregating.

Asheville police said they will be enforcing the closure. They will first issue warnings to those who violate the closure. Repeat offenders will be ticketed.

Greenspaces and city trails will remain open for now, but still the city wants to make sure people are keeping the proper distance.

Repeal North Carolina’s ‘Be Cruel To Opossums’ Law
Jim — You may be familiar with the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City. But every New Year’s Eve, the city of Andrew, North Carolina captures a terrified possum and drops it from a roof while onlookers cheer. Opossums are shy, nocturnal animals. They keep both people and their gardens safe by eating harmful ticks. The North Carolina State House of Representatives has even cosigned this annual “possum drop” by suspending wildlife laws between December 29 and January 2. A group of animal lovers is asking for this law to be repealed. They and the opossums need your help to stop this cruel tradition today.
Animal Help Now started this petition to North Carolina General Assembly Members and it now has 148,711 signatures

End State-Sanctioned Opossum Abuse in North Carolina

Several years ago, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a statute that allows opossums to be abused for five days surrounding the New Year, all for the purpose of entertainment at a New Year’s Eve “Possum Drop.” A majority of General Assembly members approved House Bill 574 (2015) without granting the public the right to comment on it.

North Carolina General Statute § 113-291.13 Application of wildlife laws to opossums reads, “No State or local statutes, rules, regulations, or ordinances related to the capture, captivity, treatment, or release of wildlife shall apply to the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) between the dates of December 29 of each year and January 2 of each subsequent year.”

The statute goes beyond allowing “possum drops” in the state; it allows anyone in North Carolina to legally abuse opossums. Gaining increasing national attention, the statute is an embarrassment to its residents and jeopardizes the state’s tourism industry.

The entertainment of a few hundred people for a couple of hours is inadequate justification for stripping the benign and beneficial opossum of all protections afforded by state and local laws that have been in place for decades. The potential for cruel treatment of opossums is limitless and unethical. North Carolina must repeal the statute.

Millie, the opossum used in the 2018 Andrews, NC “drop,” was taken from her home in the wild. During her capture, she suffered a serious leg injury that became so infected, it could be smelled from a distance during the New Year’s Eve event. Millie dangled in a plexiglass box above a noisy crowd, band and fireworks. This stress is enough to cause serious illnesses among shy, gentle animals such as opossums. For a few hours of entertainment, Millie was tormented and eventually had to have her leg amputated. The disability is so severe that she can never go home. This can never happen again.

We, the undersigned, call on the otherwise intelligent and compassionate North Carolina General Assembly members to sponsor a bill in the 2019 Session to repeal N.C.G.S. § 113-291.13 (2015).

Animal Cruelty Charges Dropped Because Fish Are Not “Animals” Under North Carolina Law

Animals are defined as “property” under U.S. law, which complicates efforts to advocate for them through the legal system. Property classification is not the only aspect of animals’ legal status that presents challenges. Also problematic is when animals are expressly excluded from the definition of “animal” under state cruelty laws, as this case illustrates.

In April 2019, a North Carolina man was arrested and charged with four animal cruelty s — one count of animal abandonment and three counts of cruelty to animals — for failing to provide his oscar fish with food and fresh water and abandoning the animal in his home when he was evicted. The fish was malnourished, swimming in a dirty tank, and suffering from a parasitic disease when discovered by authorities in the abandoned residence.

While animal cruelty prosecutions involving fish are rare, Lt. Jerry Brewer, a spokesman for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, said: “This is a life just like any dog or cat. If you harm or neglect an animal in New Hanover County, we are coming for you.” Authorities believe it was the first time a suspect had been charged in the county with cruelty over a pet fish.

The following week, however, all of the charges were dropped because according to North Carolina’s animal cruelty law fish are not “animals.” The state’s animal cruelty statute defines animals as “every living vertebrate in the classes Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves,[1] and Mammalia except human beings.”[2] Fish are not represented in these categories and are the only vertebrate class not included.

In a statement, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said:

We take a very dim view of anyone who would abuse any creature great or small and appreciate [the Animal Services Division’s] enforcement of the laws to protect vulnerable animals. Fish are not included in this statute, however, so my office is ing these charges.

What is an “Animal”?

Despite the fact that they are living beings, animals are defined under U.S. law as property, which has been an obstacle to gaining recognition that they have basic legal rights. Animal cruelty laws are one of the few legal protections animals have that distinguish them from other types of property. However, some animals are not even granted the basic status of “animal” under the law, meaning they are generally excluded from even the elementary protections provided by animal cruelty statutes.

Animal cruelty laws are powerful tools to protect animals. But these protections are watered down in important ways, such as by exempting otherwise lawful practices that harm animals (e.g., farming, research, and hunting and fishing) and excluding entire classes of animals from the legal definition of “animal,” which leaves them with essentially no statutory protection from abuse and neglect.[3]

The statutory definition of “animal” under cruelty laws varies by state, and does not always adhere to commonly accepted biological and cultural understandings of what an animal is. There are a total of ten states that exclude fish from their statutory definitions of animals.[4] In addition to fish and other aquatic animals, farmed animals (or “standard,” “customary,” or “accepted” farming practices),[5] cold-blooded animals,[6] and wild animals[7] are sometimes excluded by definition from state cruelty laws. Other statutes are more vaguely worded and neither specifically exclude nor include fish and other animals;[8] other states provide no definition whatsoever.[9]

While there is no uniform definition of “animal” under state animal cruelty laws, the situation is not much better when it comes to federal animal protection laws (of which there are few). In addition, as with other animals, if fish are defined as animals at all, the cultural category into which they are placed matters: Being classified as a “pet” (versus “food” or “research subject”) will yield different levels of legal protection. As we have written in “Fins or Fur — How the Law Differs:

It is now more or less indisputable that aquatic animals like fish feel pain and suffer as other animals do but have fewer legal protections. The federal  does not protect fish (or birds, farm animals, rats and mice bred for labs, and reptiles, among others). Fish are also not included in the Humane Slaughter Act or federal laws governing the treatment of animals used in research; not only that, but fish are not counted in the United States Department of Agriculture’s yearly report on animal usage in labs despite the fact that they make up an estimated seven percent of animals used in labs.

Fish Are Living, Feeling Beings

The fish rescued in this case was taken by authorities to a retail pet store called the Fish Room, where employees have been nursing him back to health with a proper diet and medication. One of these employees, according to the Washington Post, characterized oscar fish as “very trainable” with “huge personalities.” Oscar fish can live up to 20 years. The recently rescued fish is estimated to be about a year old.

It was a positive step that the sheriff’s office in this case brought cruelty charges involving a fish, but unfortunate that the district attorney’s hands were tied by North Carolina’s statutory definition of animal, which essentially erases fish and sends the message that their suffering isn’t relevant.

Indeed, fish are living, feeling beings — not essentially different from the animals who are protected by cruelty laws. Animal cruelty laws should be extended to apply to fish where they currently do not. There is no longer any doubt that fish are sentient. Substantial empirical research shows that they feel pain.[10]Therefore, at the very minimum fish should be recognized as “animals” under the law.

According to a study published in the journal Animal Cognition, “fish are seldom afforded the same compassion as warm-blooded vertebrates, in part due to the large gap between people’s perception of fish intelligence and the scientific reality.” This matters because public perception guides government policy. In reviewing the scientific literature, the author concluded that:

Fish perception and cognitive abilities often match or exceed other vertebrates. A review of the evidence for pain perception strongly suggests that fish experience pain in a manner similar to the rest of the vertebrates… The extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate.[11]

Learn More!

To learn more about the emerging field of aquatic animal law, tune into the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s free webinar, “Aquatic Animal Law: Overview, Aquaculture, and Alternatives,” on Friday June 14, 2019, from 12-2pm PT. It’s free to register but space is limited, so reserve your spot today! Lewis & Clark Law School is also offering Aquatic Animal Law as an online summer class for the first time this year. Class begins June 18 and is open to visiting and auditing students.

Further Reading:

URGENT: Help Stop Insidious ‘Opossum Drop’ in Andrews, North Carolina!

Andrews, North Carolina, apparently intends to “celebrate” New Year’s Eve by hosting a sadistic so-called “opossum drop,” during which a wild-caught opossum would be imprisoned inside a Plexiglas box for hours above a rowdy crowd. At midnight—after being forced to endure a near-constant barrage of live music, a noisy marching band leading the animal in, and fireworks displays replete with the usual explosions and smoke—the terrified opossum would be slowly lowered to signify the dawning of the new year. Because this sensitive and elusive prey species naturally avoids human contact at all costs, subjecting one of them to hordes of partiers, chaos, and blaring noise is inhumane and would very likely result in potentially fatal stress-induced conditions. PETA scheduled a meeting with Mayor James Reid in order to describe our concerns and to encourage city officials to “drop” any one of countless nonliving articles that won’t suffer, but he canceled the meeting at the last minute, even declining to discuss the matter by phone—so now it’s your turn!

Please politely urge the following city officials and event sponsors to cancel the cruel event, then spread this alert far and wide. Remember, it’s vital that you keep it polite! Polite comments can be directed to:

The Honorable James Reid
Mayor of Andrews, North Carolina

Mr. Steve Jordan
Alderman and Mayor Pro Tempore
Town of Andrews, North Carolina

Ms. Richelle Phillips
Town of Andrews, North Carolina

Mr. Mike Sheidy
Town of Andrews, North Carolina

Mr. Scott Stalcup
Town of Andrews, North Carolina

Ms. Sandra Daley, Chair
Cherokee County Tourism Development Authority (Event Sponsor)

Mr. Mark Kimball, CEO
Erlanger Murphy Medical Center (Event Sponsor)

Mr. Joel Storrow
McGill Associates (Event Sponsor)



 Yes, this is a treasured local event that we should be proud is coming to our town.
 No, the event is played out and has run its course.
 It belongs at Clay’s Corner in Brasstown.


Court Victory: Wild Red Wolves Get a Chance at Survival

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina today issued an order declaring that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in its rollback of protections for the world’s only wild population of red wolves living in eastern North Carolina.  On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Red Wolf Coalition, the Southern Environmental Law Center initiated the lawsuit in 2015.

Examining the agency’s decisions to allow private landowners to shoot and kill non-problem red wolves, to end releases of red wolves, and to end active management of coyotes, the court found that “taken together, these actions go beyond the agency’s discretion and operate to violate [the Service’s] mandate to recover this species in the wild.”  The court also made permanent its September 29, 2016, order stopping the service from capturing and killing, and authorizing private landowners to capture and kill wild red wolves.

“For four years now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been dismantling one of the most successful predator reintroductions in U.S. history,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The service knows how to protect and recover the red wolf in the wild, but it stopped listening to its scientists and started listening to bureaucrats instead.  The law doesn’t allow the agency to just walk away from species conservation, like it did here.”

The groups brought the federal court action over the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to allow red wolves that were not causing any problems to be shot and killed by private landowners, at the same time as it rolled back conservation measures that had helped red wolves grow from four pairs released in 1987, to over 100 animals in eastern North Carolina from 2002-2014. Since those management changes were made, the red wolf population has plummeted over the past four years to as few as 24 known red wolves in the wild today.

“Support for red wolf protection has been overwhelming,” said Jason Rylander, Senior Staff Attorney for Defenders of Wildlife. “But, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ignored public support and moved forward with a proposal that will doom the species to extinction. Today’s decision by the court to protect red wolves from being shot and killed offers a glimmer of hope for species recovery and new energy to make this program successful once again.”

USFWS attempted to avoid a ruling in Conservation Groups’ lawsuit by proposing on June 27, 2018, a new rule to restrict wild red wolves to one National Wildlife Refuge and a bombing range in eastern North Carolina, while allowing the immediate killing of any wolves that live on or wander onto non-federal lands in what previously had been a designated 1.7 million acre five-county Red Wolf Recovery Area.

Conservation groups opposed this proposal, arguing instead for an alternative that would reinstate previous successful management measures.  “Rolling back protections is the opposite of what this species needs,” said Kim Wheeler, executive director of the Red Wolf Coalition. “The court’s ruling today makes clear that the USFWS must recommit to red wolf recovery and resume its previously successful management policies and actions.”

The USFWS proposal would reduce the recovery area by almost 90 percent, eliminating protections for endangered red wolves from 1.5 million acres.  In 2016, a group of 30 scientists condemned such a scenario because the limited area proposed by USFWS could not support a viable population of red wolves and its proposal was inconsistent with the best available science.

“The District Court’s ruling today makes it clear that USFWS’s recent management decisions have failed to protect the red wolf population,” said Johanna Hamburger, wildlife attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute.  “Scientists have warned that if USFWS continues to ignore the recovery needs of the red wolf, these animals may once again be extinct in the wild by 2024. The court has ruled that this is unacceptable and that USFWS has a duty under the ESA to implement proactive conservation measures to achieve species recovery.”

According to the conservation groups, 99.9 percent of the 108,124 comments that the agency received on its proposed rule supported red wolf recovery in the wild.  Only 19 comments—with 13 of these coming from a single real estate developer—supported USFWS’s proposal to restrict red wolves to only federal lands in Dare County.

The red wolf recovery program served as a model for reintroduction efforts and was widely celebrated as a success for 25 years before the service began ending its successful conservation actions.  Once common throughout the Southeast, intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat drove the red wolf to extinction in the wild in the late 1970s. Later, red wolves bred in captivity were reintroduced on a North Carolina peninsula within their native range in the late 1980s.


About the Red Wolf Coalition
The Red Wolf Coalition ( advocates for the long-term survival of red wolf populations by teaching about the red wolf and by fostering public involvement in red wolf conservation.

About the Animal Welfare Institute
The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.

About Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit

About the Southern Environmental Law Center
For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 70 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region.


The following is an open letter to those who left animals to drown in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
Dear North Carolinians,
How dare you! You had ample time to pack up your most precious belongings, gas up your car, and flee the state with your loved ones. And you still chose to leave animals behind.
For most of last week, I watched the updates about where Florence would land, how much flooding could occur, and how it would affect farmed animals in the area. As an animal rights activist, I felt helpless knowing people would choose to leave animals behind with no way to survive. And just “hoping animals would survive the worst of the storm” is the biggest disgrace. Sorry, not sorry.
Now that rescue teams are in the area, my Facebook feed is filled with videos of people rescuing dogs trapped in waist-high floodwaters and dogs left crying for help, some barely able to swim and on the brink of death. And these are the lucky ones.
For every dog rescued by teams in North Carolina, thousands of pigs have already drowned.
Unlike companion animals, who by law must be included in government evacuation plans during natural disasters, farmed animals are afforded no legal protections. So while farmers fled for safety, animals drowned in cages and crates with absolutely no chance of survival.
Drowning is one of the worst things one can experience. Submerged underwater, fully conscious, you panic, unable to call for help. After a few minutes, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen and you lose consciousness, allowing your airways to relax and your lungs to fill with water. Your body eventually shuts down from brain damage and cardiac arrest. It’s easily one of the most terrifying ways to die.
And this is what you did to them. As floodwaters rushed in, pigs and piglets would have panicked, just like anyone fighting to survive. We’ve seen such panic time and time again when animals are being slaughtered. Most likely, they would have bitten the bars of their crates, hoping to break free. But many were unable to escape. Imagine if you were in their place.
You let them die because they were nothing more than property to you, and the insurance money was probably worth more than the hassle of moving thousands of pigs to safer areas.
I’ve heard on some news sites that there was “nothing we could do about the animals.” That is a sheer lie. You can stop torturing them.
As a people, we need to take a serious look at ourselves and decide whether we truly want to be such monsters. Then we need to change the laws. Immediately.

And while that happens, all of us can stop supporting the disgusting meat industry by refusing to buy its products. Learn more here.

3.4 million poultry, 5,500 hogs drowned in Florence flooding

Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence have killed at least 1.7 million chickens in N.C.
investors Monday that at least 1.7
million of its chickens had perished in N.C
Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence have killed at least 1.7 million chickens in N.C.
Yahoo News Video

Scroll back up to restore default view.

About 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market, according to state officials.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture issued the livestock mortality totals Tuesday, as major flooding is continuing after the slow-moving storm’s drenching rains. Sixteen North Carolina rivers were at major flood stage Tuesday, with an additional three forecasted to peak by Thursday.

The Department of Environmental Quality said the earthen dam at one hog lagoon in Duplin County had breached, spilling its contents. Another 25 of the pits containing animal feces and urine have either suffered structural damage, had wastewater levels go over their tops from heavy rains or had been swamped by floodwaters. Large mounds of manure are also typically stored at poultry farms.

North Carolina is among the top states in the nation in producing pork and poultry, with about 9 million hogs at any given time and 819 million chickens and 34 million turkeys raised each year.

The N.C. Pork Council, an industry trade group, said the livestock losses from the storm should be taken in the context.

“Our farmers took extraordinary measures in advance of this storm, including moving thousands of animals out of harm’s way as the hurricane approached,” the group said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We believe deeply in our commitment to provide care for our animals amid these incredibly challenging circumstances.”

The industry lost about 2,800 hogs during flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Sanderson Farms, a major poultry producer in the state, said it lost about 1.7 million chickens after flooding at more than 60 of the independent farms that supply its poultry processing plants. The company said its facilities suffered no major damage, but supply disruptions and flooded roadways had caused shutdowns at some plants.

In addition, about 30 farms near Lumberton have been isolated by flood waters, hampering the delivery of feed to animals. The lack of food could cause additional birds to die if access isn’t restored quickly, the company said.

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, said its plants also suffered no significant damage and are operating at limited capacity. The company said it would ramp up production as roads become passable.

An environmental threat is also posed by human waste as low-lying municipal sewage plants flood. On Sunday, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority reported that more than 5 million gallons of partially treated sewage had spilled into the Cape Fear River after power failed at its treatment plant.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that 16 community water treatment facilities in North Carolina are unable to supply drinking water and that seven publicly owned sewage treatment works are non-operational due to the flooding.

Duke Energy is continuing cleanup operations Tuesday following a weekend breach at a coal ash landfill at its L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said a full assessment of how much ash escaped from the waterlogged landfill is ongoing. The company initially estimated Saturday that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced, enough to fill about 180 dump trucks.

The coal-fired Sutton plant was retired in 2013 and replaced with a new facility that burns natural gas. The company has been excavating millions of tons of leftover ash from old pits there and removing the waste to a new lined landfill constructed on the property. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.

Photos from the site provided to AP by Cape Fear River Watch, an environmental advocacy group, show cascades of gray-colored water spilling from at least two breaches at the landfill and flowing toward Sutton Lake, the plant’s former cooling pond which is now used for public recreation, including fishing and boating.

Sutton Lake drains into the Cape Fear River. Sheehan said Duke’s assessment is that there was minimal chance any contaminants from the spill had reached the river.

At a different power plant near Goldsboro, three old coal ash dumps capped with soil were inundated by the Neuse River. Duke said they had no indication those dumps at the H.F. Lee Power Plant were leaking ash into the river.

Duke’s handling of ash waste has faced intense scrutiny since a drainage pipe collapsed under a waste pit at an old plant in Eden in 2014, triggering a massive spill that coated 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the Dan River in gray sludge. The utility later agreed to plead guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations and pay $102 million in fines and restitution for illegally discharging pollution from ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. It plans to close all its ash dumps by 2029.

In South Carolina, workers with electricity provider Santee Cooper erected a temporary dike in hopes of preventing flooding of an old coal ash dump at the demolished Grainger Generating Station near Conway. The dump is adjacent to the Waccamaw River, which is expected to crest at nearly 20 feet (6 meters) this weekend. That’s nine feet above flood stage and would set a new record height.