July 16, 2020

Bear/Human Encounters On the Rise

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USA Today has a story and some statistics about black bears, including a statement that bear/human encounters have risen 23% in 13 states that keep accurate records. This increase occurred between 2010 and 2012.

Surprisingly, nothing in the report blamed the usual, i.e. global warming, loss of habitat (well not directly), etc. However, no bear and human interaction story would be complete without some idiot stating that bears are not harmful to humans.

Bear biologists say that while bears may disrupt suburban life, they aren’t dangerous.

“When black bears become habituated to food from human sources and have lost their natural fear of people, they can become a threat to human health and safety,” Porras said. “This is not because they are after the human, but because they are large, powerful, wild animals that might react unpredictably as they search for a meal in the presence of people.”

How difficult is it really to take an extra line or two in these reports and explain honestly to people that bears generally don’t mess with people but a hungry bear has the potential to kill a human being with the snap of a jaw? And will.

Too many bears and/or a combination of too many bears and a shortage of natural food resources is normally what forces bear and human encounters. Bear need to eat and will find food wherever they can. Like most wild animals, eating is opportunistic and driven by circumstances. When those circumstances are right a bear will attack and kill a human, often a child, in order to eat.

This is why a well managed bear population is so important for several reasons. The ones being discussed here are only some of those reasons. We don’t want bears attacking and hurting people. We don’t want bears starving and being forced to search for food in our back yards nor to eat our children. Allowing bear populations to grow unchecked, as it appears that it is in many places in the U.S. today, is setting up for the increased potential for human/bear conflicts and, God forbid, an attack by a bear on a human.

Contact your fish and game officials and ask them what they are doing to ensure a healthy and well managed bear population.

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