Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Keep the Peace with Black Bears

Posted by  //  April 4, 2022  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Black bears are emerging from their winter dens, so don’t be alarmed to see them on hiking trails, near water, crossing roads, or passing through neighborhoods at all times of the day.  Bears are peaceful and predictable by nature.  In kind, we should practice behaviors that help ensure a peaceful coexistence with bears.

If you see a bear in the distance, calmly depart the area by another route.  Tell others you meet to do the same.  Never approach a bear, which could trigger defensive behavior.  If you encounter a black bear in close proximity, stay calm.  Face it and speak in a firm, calm voice.  Bears often vacate the area or climb trees when they hear human voices.  Calmly distance yourself; never turn your back or run.  In the extremely rare case you are attacked, fight back.  Unlike mother grizzly bears, black bear moms don’t attack people to protect their cubs; instead, they retreat or, less often, exhibit bluff behaviors that appear aggressive.

Avoidance is the best defense.  Be alert in bear habitats, travel in groups, and stay on established trails during daylight hours.  If you observe fresh bear signs, like scat or digging, leave the area immediately.  Be noisy, calling out frequently and in a firm tone, especially near water and in places with decreased visibility.  Always keep dogs leashed or they may lead a defensive bear right back to you.

“A fed bear is a dead bear.”  When bears lose their natural caution of humans from habitual food rewards gained through unsecured garbage and compost piles, outside pet food bowls, early spring bird feeders, greasy BBQ grills, etc., they (along with our neighbors) become predisposed to danger.

Margie Manthey

Photo: Tammy Nash

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