Hey cottagers and campers and fishers and other outdoorsy types….it’s that time of year, time for our annual beware of the bears post.
Spring is a time of movement for a black bear and the time when you are most likely to encounter one…how do I know that? I don’t…but I do know that black bears are on the go in the spring.
It’s the time when the mother black bears, called sows, kick their older babies out of the family, and start to raise new ones.
That means that the young ones are on their own for the first time and can get in all sorts of trouble, it also means that a mother with one or two tiny cubs can be awfully cranky and protective of her young-uns.
I always wanted to say “young-uns” sounds so woodsy.
So, you have two things to consider, young teenage bears on the prowl, looking for action, and female bears looking to protect their young….but there is one more…a big old male, who has spent the winter sleeping…you’d think he would be in a pretty good mood after a nice long nap. Well he might be except he is probably pretty hungry and looking for breakfast. You don’t wanna be his first course.
Normally a black bear will go in the opposite direction to humans, and won’t give you any trouble, but these days, with our constant encroachment on their territory, black bear encounters are up and they have the potential to be a damm sight more awful then say seeing a deer in the garden.
According to Wikipedia, between May 2000 and September 2008 there were 15 fatal attacks from black bears in North America, including men, women and children. There were 8 females killed, including an infant.
Considering that between 1900 and 2003 there were about 52 recorded deaths due to black bears, 15 of those happening since 2000…it doesn’t look like the bears are getting any friendlier.
However, there is a strong likelihood that not all the earlier attacks, before 2000, have been recorded, so the numbers may be incomplete during those years.
These are not necessarily folks who are out there poking sticks in bears faces either, those killed included, hunters, fishermen, a mountain biker, tenters/campers, plum picker, oil rig worker, a 5 month-old baby on a porch in Fallsburg, New York, an elderly homeowner in New Mexico, where a bear broke into his home, a runner on a training run at a military base near Quebec City, Canada.
Add in attacks by brown bears, (grizzley, polar bears, Kodiak bears) and the number increases to 25 killed.
Of course there are probably hundreds of human/bear encounters that end up OK, mine have, obviously, but the fact remains they are wild animals and need to be treated with caution.
Black Bear Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service