Monday, February 8, 2010

to feed a bear is to kill a bear

As I was going through some pictures this morning  I came across my bear cub pictures from when I worked at an animal sanctuary.

It reminded me that soon  our "bear season" will be upon us. By bear season I do not mean  hunting them  but  rather the season that we are more likely to encounter  them both at our homes, especially those of us that are rural, as well as  while we are out and about enjoying mother nature. It  also reminded me that while they are wonderful creatures that there are a few things that we need to remember during bear season in order to  keep ourselves, our homes and homesteads , and our outdoor adventures safe from  the wild life while at the same time hopefully  giving the wildlife  a better chance at remaining wild life and not  just another casualty of  the "stupid humans." 

I use the saying "to feed a bear is to kill a bear" because  here in Ga atleast  any bear that becomes a nuisance bear is  killed if it is in a residential area or puts people at risk. The DNR used to  move them once from the area and  put a collar on them to monitor but in the last year or two it has been decided that our estimated  population of 2500 bears is plenty for the state thus they enacted the kill policies.This includes  cubs that are left motherless for whatever reason. 

problems that arise from  fed bears   
 A fed bear can become aggressive (bolder) in seeking more food and may injure the person hand-feeding it.   

Problems can arise when a person uses food to lure a very hungry half-tame bear closer than it feels comfortable.

Often, fearful people jerk their hand back each time a bear opens its mouth to take food from it,some bears just give up and leave, but very hungry bears will become aggressive and go after the food.   

Or, the bear might feed calmly from the person's hand until the food is gone then suddenly feel crowded and might be too fearful to turn its back and leave, and it might lash out defensively giving someone a slap with one of its paws.Those paws are very strong and have very sharp  claws in them by instinct  when a bear swipes it sticks its claws out and pulls inward with  a lot of strength. Ask me how I know.:)

Bears are naturally afraid of humans, but may become "habituated" or accustomed to people along popular hiking trails, camping areas, tourist towns in the mtns, subdivisions being built, etc. Keep the area safe for humans and bears by never feeding or approaching bears. Should a bear come near you he is most likely curious or smells something interesting. A bears nose is  over 7 times  stronger than that of a dog.  If he stands up, he is not going to attack but is trying to get a better look or smell. Bear attacks are extremely rare and by comparison a person is about 70 times more likely to be killed by a dog.

 Extra caution should be used around a mama bear and her young. Much like every other type of mother out there, when it comes to her babies she is very protective and will become aggressive when  she feels they are in danger.

   Bears are powerful and strong animals, they should always be treated with caution and respect

Bears that become comfortable near people and communities are also more likely to get involved in a traffic accident and this could possibly cause injury or death to both the people in the vehicle and the bear.

around the homestead

  The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food, but grills, livestock food, compost, and beehives can also attract bears.
    
 Residential bear problems may occur at any time of year, but are more common when natural food supplies are limited, usually in spring or in years when nut and berry productions are low.

 Most common bear problems have simple solutions. The typical problems involve turned-over garbage containers,trash littered across the yard, bears entering dog pens or coming onto porches to eat pet foods, or damaged bird feeders. However, bears that learn to associate food with people can cause property damage in their search for food around houses. Again, ask me how  I know.

If addressed quickly, problems are often resolved immediately. After a few failed attempts to find food, bears will usually leave the area and return to more normal wild food items.

If problems are ignored, property damage can not only get worse, but bears may lose their fear of humans. Bears habituated to humans pose public safety concerns and end up dead.

Black bears have a natural fear of humans, are shy, and usually avoid people. However, bears may be attracted to food sources in residential areas.

Prevention
 Secure your garbage: Store garbage indoors,in a shed,in a garage, or in a bear-proof container.
    
  Put garbage out in the morning of pickup, not the night before.
     
   Take trash to the dump frequently.
    
    Pick up pet food: Feed pets only what they will eat in a single feeding or feed them indoors. Remove the food bowl soon after pets finish. Pick up uneaten food. Do not leave food out overnight.
   
  Remove the bird feeder! Bears consume seeds and nuts found in the wild, so bird feeders become a favored target for bears. Bears eat about an 85%  vegetarian diet. Use bird feeders that have special clips so that you can bring them in at night.
   
  Clean the outdoor grill often.
    
  Do not put meat scraps or any other strong-smelling food in the compost pile. Consider an enclosed compost bin.
    
   Pick up and remove ripe fruit from fruit trees and surrounding grounds.
   
  Install electric fencing to protect beehives, dumpsters, gardens, compost piles, or other potential food sources.
    
  Talk to your neighbors: Make sure your neighbors and community are aware of the ways to prevent nuisance bear problems. One person not following the simple preventive measures in a neighborhood can cause the entire area grief.

If a bear is on or near your property, do not escalate the situation by approaching,crowding around, or chasing the bear. This also applies to bears that have climbed up a tree. The best thing you can do is leave it alone. Because bears are naturally afraid of humans, a bear that feels cornered will be looking for an escape route. By keeping people and pets away from the bear, you give it the best chance to come down from the tree and leave your property on its own.

Camping and hiking  tips
  Familiarize yourself with bear behavior and signs.

If camping, learn various ways of hanging food out of bears' reach, including counter-balances.

 Be sure tent, sleeping bags, and your skin are free of any lingering food odors.

 Avoid packing odorous food and nonfood (fragrant cosmetic, toiletries, etc.)items. Use bear-proof containers, doubled plastic bags or airtight canisters to seal in odors.
 Bring extra bags for leftovers and for packing out garbage, if necessary.

 Avoid taking a dog or keep it leashed

Remain on trail and never hike at night.

 Always stay alert.

 Discard garbage in bear-proof trash containers or pack out in sealed plastic bags. Leave no trace.

 Don't surprise a bear, especially a mama with cubs! Use caution when traveling in windy weather,down-wind, approaching blind curves, dense vegetation, and noisy streams, where a bear may not see, smell or hear you coming.

 Circling birds and/or offensive odors may indicate an animal carcass - avoid this area or use extreme caution.

 Never leave any food or backpack unattended.Hang all food stuff and toiletries etc atleast 10 foot in the air between two trees  12 foot apart.

Choose an open site away from dense vegetation, natural food areas, forest cover, or natural pathways Avoid messy sites and areas with bear sign: torn apart logs, tracks, trampled brush, scat, claw marks on trees.

Wash dishes and utensils immediately. Dispose of waste water downwind,100 feet from sleeping area or use a grey water pit and cover your thrown out water with soil.

If you  encounter a bear
     If a bear approaches you, stay calm.
 
 ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RUN (running may elicit a chase response in the bear).
  
 Pick up small children so they don't run, scream or panic.
  
 Gather the group together and restrain your dog.

 Let the bear know you are human; talk in a soothing voice. Lift arms overhead to look bigger.

 Slowly back away and avoid direct eye contact with the bear.

 If the bear lunges, snaps his jaws, slaps ground or brush with paw, he feels threatened. You are too close.

 The bear may also suddenly rush forward and stop as a "bluffing" tactic to intimidate you to leave; momentarily hold your ground, then keep backing away and talking softly.

 Don't crowd the bear; leave him a clear escape route.

 Retreat from the area or make a very wide detour around the bear.

  If he continues to follow you, stand your ground and yell, clap your hands, wave your arms, or throw something toward him. Repeat until he leaves.

 As a last resort - drop something like a hat to distract him but avoid tossing him food or your backpack as he will quickly learn to confront other humans for food rewards.
              
Remember enjoy the wild life but remember they are still wild. Lets keep them that way!

for more info check out
http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/bears.htm


1 comment:

  1. I surely do hope that my wife and I have the nerve to remain calmly where we are in case a bear leaps towards us in an intimidating manner. I am sure that will always be a gamble, since you don't know whether the bear is only bluffing or sees you as a meal that he should get hold of quickly...

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