Preventing Conflict With Black Bears
Bears intrigue me. I bet they intrigue you too. I’m not talking about Yogi Bear, Smokey The Bear, The Berenstain Bears, The Three Bears or The Great Root Bear, although at some point in my life they all intrigued me as well.
But tonight I am talking about the North American Black Bear, who’s scientific name I believe is Ursus Americanus or something like that.
I typically refer to them as “Oh Sh-T!! A bear!!! when I see them.
However, I don’t particularly want to run afoul of a black bear, so I am generally cognizant of my surroundings and how to go about preventing conflict with black bears.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen quite a few black bears over the years, around the cottage and on fishing trips. A couple of times they were even a little too close for comfort.
When you are 50 feet from a black bear they tend to stop being intriguing and become…well…kind of scary and even the small bears look big.
According to my sources, there have been over 60 people in North America killed by black bears between 1880 and 2014. To be fair. several of those killings involved bears held in captivity, befriended or otherwise, reminding folks that wild animals are best left wild.
However, over 20 people were killed between 2000 and 2014. Roughly one third of the people killed by black bears were killed in the past 14 years and it appears only one of those killed in that period had befriended or tried to tame the bear that killed him.
But, I am happy to report, every encounter I have had with a black bear, including one time with a mother and two cubs, the cutest little creatures…all of my black bear meetings have been uneventful and memorable.
Uneventful for the bear because he or she didn’t get to eat me and I didn’t shoot him or her, and memorable for me because I firmly believe you remember every bear you ever see in the woods and he didn’t eat me.
Thats why knowing about preventing conflict with black bears is important because they are truly wonderful animals to experience first hand.
Spring and Summer
Spring and Summer are particularly notable times to run into a bear, in part because they are looking for food, kind of hungry, like all the time, and in part because they hibernate all winter.
So unless you go around digging under tree downfalls and rock crevices, crawling into bear dens, you probably won’t see one in the winter.
Around the cottage it’s kind of fun to see a bear, depending on the situation, but for the most part, it is better both for you and the bear that he stays away from homes, cottages and camps.
Bears who start visiting at camps and cottages usually don’t have a good “outcome” as the bear experts describe it.
That is one of the most important, basic parts of preventing conflict with black bears, keeping them at a distance. It’s important to keep bears afraid of you and ensure that they do not become used to being around people. Both for the bear and for you.
Besides that, a bear, no matter how cute he is on television or at a distance, is a wild animal with a big set of claws and pretty good chompers, not something you want grabbing you by the arm, leg or head, or anywhere else for that matter.
Avoiding Black Bears
There are a few things you can do to avoid bear encounters around your country cottage, camp or suburban home. They are pretty simple, basic things, but they should help to keep bears out of your neighborhood.
Here is the late Rocky Spencer, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Carnivore Specialist, talking about a few of the basic things you can do to keep bears away from your home, cottage or camp.
*****Rocky Spencer was killed in September 2007 in a helicopter accident in Ellensburg, Washington, while capturing bighorn sheep. He was 55. Spencer joined the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1978 and came to be known as one of the state’s best wildlife biologists.*****
Where Are The Bears?
According to Wilkipedia:
“Black bears currently inhabit much of their original Canadian range, though they do not occur in the southern farmlands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. They have been extinct in Prince Edward Island since 1937.
The total Canadian black bear population is between 396,000 and 476,000, based on surveys taken in the mid-1990s in seven Canadian provinces, though this estimate excludes black bear populations in New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.
All provinces indicated stable populations of black bears over the last decade.
The current range of black bears in the United States is constant throughout most of the northeast, and down in the Appalachian Mountains almost continuously from Maine to north Georgia, the northern midwest, the Rocky Mountain region, the west coast and Alaska.”
1st Black Bear Photo Courtesy of Greg Hume – Wilkipedia