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Bears in the News
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Bears in the News

Article states the hiker died due to the bear biting his head. The hiker did get some shots off but it was unclear if he had hit the bear. Attack took place in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Article states the boy was attacked while in his tent.

"Food is the key in virtually every bear/human conflict," states Jim Cardoza, MassWildlife's Bear Project Leader. "When bears find an easy meal at backyard trash barrels, bird feeders, grills or pet food bowls they'll return time and again and will seek the same foods in neighboring yards. Over time they become accustomed to the sights and smells of developed areas and habituate to a human presence, losing their instinctive fear of people. Bears then become bolder in their search for food, walking on decks or pushing in cottage doors and windows where they smell a potential meal. This entire scenario results in an abnormally behaving bear and is an accident waiting to happen."

The solution? Cardoza advocates a broad approach starting with educating the public. "It's up to the public to eliminate all of these artificial food sources. Garbage needs to be secured, pets fed indoors, bird feeders taken down when bears are active and grills kept clean. To ignore these precautions or to intentionally feed bears is irresponsible and puts both people and bears at risk." Another key is keeping the overall bear population in balance with available habitat and the natural food supply. Bears feed seasonally on emerging vegetation, insects, carrion, fruits, berries, acorns and beechnuts. Massachusetts has hundreds of thousands of acres of forest, wetlands, fields and shrublands that can naturally support a healthy and viable population of bears. Twenty-five years of radio-telemetry research and the examination of hundreds of bear specimens indicates the Commonwealth's bear population is increasing at a rate of 7 to 10% per year and currently numbers some 2,000 individual animals. This is approximately 1 bear per square mile of forest west of the Connecticut River. Bears are also expanding their range into central Massachusetts but the amount of habitat is limited. "The land can only support so many bears," Cardoza continues, "and the number of bears being born each year is greater than the number dying so the population is going up. We're using regulated hunting seasons to try to keep bear numbers stable, or at least slow the growth rate. Our seasons are designed not only to help balance the bear population, but to minimize bear damage to cornfields, orchards and apiaries, keep bears wild and wary of humans and utilize the renewable bear resource which provides valuable meat, hides and recreation."

"The incident in New York was a terrible tragedy for the family of the little girl. The male bear had been feeding on garbage and was likely habituated to the area where the people were vacationing. It's up to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and public safety officials to try and determine the factors that triggered the actual attack. For the rest of us, this ordeal serves as a sobering reminder that wild animals must be kept wild and be managed so that their numbers can be supported by the natural landscape." Contact New York Department of Environmental Conservation, 518.402.8049.

Black Bear Study Offers Good NewsWASHINGTON, DC

May 1, 2002 Environment News Service

American black bear populations appear to be stable or increasing across most of their North American range, a decade long study has found.

However, in many areas, further action is needed to address poaching, illegal trade, and monitoring of legal hunting in order to fully protect black bears, says the study by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring program of World Wildlife Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation Union.

The report was compiled from responses to a detailed set of survey questions submitted to wildlife management agencies at the state, provincial, and territorial level in the United States and Canada. The study covers a period of almost 10 years, and provides a comprehensive, long term look at black bear population trends in North America.

Among the good news the study reveals is that the estimated black bear population in the United States grew by some 25 to 35 percent during the survey period, from about 253,000-375,000 in 1988 to an estimated 339,000-465,000 in the mid-1990s. During the same overall period, Canada's black bear population estimate increased from 372,500-382,500 to 396,000-476,000.

Black bear populations in Mexico were difficult to assess because of the lack of available data. The study also notes that some populations, such as the Louisiana black bear subspecies, remain threatened.

"American black bears are doing well throughout most of their current range," said Craig Hoover, deputy director of TRAFFIC North America. "On the whole, wildlife management authorities responsible for black bear conservation should receive credit and acclamation for this success."

However, the TRAFFIC surveys found that in many states, laws and regulations to address poaching, illegal trade, and monitoring of hunting and commercial activities involving bears could be improved. Bear parts continue to be in demand, especially the gallbladders and paws, which are used in Asian markets as medicine and food.

Illegal killings continue to be reported throughout the black bear's range, though the report found no indication that the number of bears involved threatens the overall status of the species.

States, provinces and territories have tightened restrictions on trade in recent years, with a growing number banning the sale of gallbladders and other parts. Yet four U.S. states - Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa - and one Canadian province, Prince Edward Island, have no laws governing the bear trade.

"Wildlife agencies and legislative bodies need to close the existing legislative and regulatory gaps in current black bear management efforts," Hoover said. "Fortunately, because of the relative health of North America's bear populations, we have the opportunity to take action before there is indication of a crisis, such as an increase in poaching pressure. But action is clearly needed and this positive news should not dictate complacency."

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Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Bearskin Hats Under Animal Rights Fire

LONDON (Reuters) - They're as British as red double deckers and Big Ben but the bearskin hats of the Queen's bodyguard could soon fall victim to the anti-fur lobby.

The Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday it was looking at alternatives to the skin of Ursus Americanus, Canada's black bear, which are used for the tall "busby" helmets of 2,500 scarlet-clad soldiers in the Foot Guards."We are aware that their use distresses some people," a ministry spokesman told Reuters.

He said a search for alternatives was in response to calls from campaign group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

"No bears are killed specifically to make the headgear," the spokesman said. "The skins are a by-product of culls which are necessary because the bears are becoming a danger to other wildlife in their natural habitat."

Past attempts to find alternatives have not met with success. Synthetic fur either became too spiky when wet, produced too much static electricity or took on unusual shapes in strong winds.

Wearing bearskins has been a tradition for the Foot Guards since 1815 when the sovereign granted the regiments the right to don the head gear in recognition of their defeat of Napoleon's bearskin-wearing Imperial Guard at the Battle of Waterloo.

Worn on ceremonial occasions and at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the sight of soldiers marching in bearskins has become a firm favorite with tourists.

"Natural bearskins can last years and years. In some cases they are passed from father to son," the spokesman said.

Stephen Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional. He is a nationally known writer including having been an assistant editor for Wildlife Control Technology magazine, author of numerous ADC articles as well as The Wildlife Removal Handbook rev.ed and the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook rev. ed. Mr. Vantassel is also a vocal critic of the growing animal rights movement. He has exposed the fallacies and deceptions of the animal rights protest industry through debate, lecture and publication.


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