Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Black Bear is an interesting animal and we certainly have our share of them here in Westfield, MA. We are on the edge of The Berkshires which are part of The Appalachians which become The Green and White Mountains North of us. I’m no expert but I know our Bear population has really increased in the past few years and I think that a lot of it has to do with less hunting pressure on the Bear population. Dogs were outlawed, several years ago, and this lessens the pressure on the bear population from hunters. Housing movement into rural areas has also put pressure on bears to move and their food source is probably screwed up. More bears, less space equals less food. They have gone after the honey growers first and the bird feeders second. I have not noticed anyone raising honey for several years now. Not only do they steal the honey but they destroy the hives in the process. Birds feeders are one of their favorite alternatives. They just bend or break off the poles and eat the seed, then they go looking for the bags. If you set the feeders back up. Like most people do, they come back. They have excellent memories and can remember food sources for several years.

Last year we had a Mama Bear and three Cubs in our cemetery. She brought them in, through our forest, to the very end of the forest. She found an appropriate tree and ran the yearling cub and the two babies up the tree for safe keeping. When the babies were safely settled, way up on big limbs, she headed out to find some food. She headed up the bank to a road, which was about 30 feet away. The problem was that an older man [older than myself] was tending his wife’s grave, along with his daughter. She went and sat in the car and he stepped over the bank to go to the bathroom. He never saw the bear and the bear never saw him. All 200 pounds of Mama bear passed, on a dead run and within 5 feet, as she scrambled by him to the road. When I talked to the man afterwards he said “I’m not ashamed to tell you, I wet myself”.

She returned about 1 hour later after an apparently successful hunting excursion. For one thing she did not attract the usual police cars and bystanders. Momma plopped herself at the bottom of the tree and took a nap even though I was in my pickup only 50 feet away. Every time I moved, she turned her head and watched me until I settled down. After about 20 minutes she groaned and headed back through our forest and within 25’ she had her entire family following her. She hasn’t come back yet but I’m sure she will. We are all waiting as it was such a fun thing to watch.

The following information is gleaned from The National Geographic News for 4/24/06 A hunter was attacked and seriously injured by a black bear Saturday on a road just outside Olympic National Park in Washington State. The incident follows a black bear attack nine days earlier that killed a six-year -old girl in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. Some experts say the bear attacks may be a sign of a growing clash between humans and the wild. "I think it is probably just a matter of there being more bears and more people in bear range than ever before," Joe Clark, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Associated Press. That fatality is among only 12 cases of black bears killing humans in the contiguous United States in the last century, according to the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Director Lynn Rogers, adds that people are more than a hundred times more likely to be killed by bees in the United States than by a black bear. My Dad use to always add that line when he was telling snake stories except he would say snakes instead of bears.Maybe I should tell a snake story next. I could tell you the story about the Hoop snake. Naw, I’ve got a good Coyote post lined up but then maybe the snake story.

1 comment:

keewee said...

Bears are majestic creatures, and I have a healthy respect for them.
When we go to Alaska on a fishing trip every year, I am constantly looking over my shoulder.