May 24, 2019

Denial of Bear Behavior

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In an article in the Bangor Daily News, a writer tells of how one area of Maine has become a hot spot for Spring bear encounters as the bears search for food after a long winter of prolonged diet.

Unfortunately, ignorance of bear behavior places people in danger of more serious encounters or attacks by hungry bears. The article states: “I don’t feel threatened by him, but I would not go out and try to pet him, no. We both respect him. You have to respect them and keep your distance. I have had so many people tell me that he will come through your door, he will come through your windows, but we use common sense, too. We don’t treat them like pets.”

The first thing to understand is that a hungry bear doesn’t much care about how you feel about them. Becoming acclimated to a source of food outside your house, means the next step will be to get a taste of some of that savory smelling foods from inside. Bears will easily go through screen windows and break doors and bust up glass if they are intent on the food inside. When they decide to do that, I hope the bears only go after the good smelling food and not the humans in the house.

I guess it’s some sort of human gesture to say you “respect” the bears, use “common sense” and “don’t treat them like pets.” But seriously, do you think a bear has the reasoning powers to understand that you respect them and are using common sense? It might sound like a good explanation for bad behavior but a hungry bear isn’t interested in your feelings toward them.

And on another note, when will writers stop insisting that bear attacks are rare? Rare as compared to what? Feeding bears out your back door causes the risk of a bear attack to go up exponentially and therefore the event is far from rare.

Every time a writer or a wildlife biologist suggests that bear attacks are rare, the signal is sent out that there is little to be concerned with. What should be of concern is someone feeding bears in their backyard, believing the chances of something happening as “rare” while having “respect,” “using common sense,” and “not treating them like pets.” Rare is gone out the window.

To feed bears, as pets, and then state that they don’t treat them as pets, shows the ignorance that will, eventually, land them in trouble. I hope it is not serious when it happens.

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