Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Year..Another Bear

A couple years ago I posted about a rather exciting visitor to our back yard (technically, probably our front yard LOL) Bill, the bear. We have reason to believe Bill ceased to exist a couple weeks after that sighting, but now it seems one of his relatives is making our property his home.

Bill wasn't a shy fellow. In a year which yielded a less than plentiful supply of natures best for our large neighbors, Bill and his relations were seen in higher numbers than usual in the daytime hours. Bill visited our yard several times that summer. He seemed particularly fond of the numerous Banana slugs that hid around our woodshed. He put on quite a show for us, as we watched from the safety of our house one day. The rest of his visits weren't quite so eventful. He would saunter on back behind the house, gobble down any berries he may have found back there, then head back the way he'd come. Usually, we weren't even aware he was there until he was making his return trip. The kids and I would be sitting outside, they reading, me knitting. I would happen to look up and see him lazily heading back from behind the house, not even bothering to give us a sideways glance.

This last week we noticed signs of another bear on our property. Thanks to the prolonged rainy season this year, there seems to be plenty of the bears favorite food source available. Perhaps that is why this bear hasn't seen fit to make an appearance during daylight hours. Considering the local news reports, we're counting that as a blessing.

It seems the most recent immigration of humans to our area includes a good number of folks who are less than knowledgable about the rules of cohabitating with those mammals that called this area home long before we moved our families in. Whether they consider it an amusing game, or they are just plain clueless, these folks are creating a dangerous situation, both for the human residents of (and visitors to) our area, and for the bears. They are (inadvertantly for the most part, I suspect ) encouraging the bear in the area by feeding them. They leave their trash outside at night, leave food out for their pets, etc. This in turn is creating a problem with, and for the bear. The bear are becoming more bold. They are becoming a nuisance, and a danger.

In Oregon, with our large bear population, the wildlife folks who are called out to deal with these troublesome bears do not capture and relocate. The reason is simple. The bear population is large enough, and the wildlife areas small enough, that should they catch and release them elsewhere, chances are either one of two things would happen.

A) Relocated bear would become a nuisance, or worse, in or near it's new location.

B) Relocated bear would simply return to the original location.

Either way, once a nuisance, always a nuisance. These are wild creatures. Once you've taught a bear that humans are a source of food, you're not going to get it out of his head. Therefore, when the officials are called in, and find it necessary to remove a bear, said bear is then destroyed.

Obviously, this has the potential to become, and in fact, we're already seeing signs of, a big problem. Bears around our general area are being put down in increasing numbers, as they are becoming nuisances, and even aggressive. Personally, I find it extremely frustrating as I know just how simple the solution is. Just a wee bit of education, and common sense would decrease the chances of a negative bear encounter to near nil. A winning situation all around.

Irregardless, our children know, this time of year (every year) they don't get to go play in the wooded area of our property. They also know, should they unexpectedly find themselves in the company of one of the large furry creatures, how to react. Additionally, this year they know they may need to react differently than in years past. They are learning about how to judge a bears intentions by his actions, and how they need to react in different situations.

Please, if you are a resident of a rural area, or if you spend time in the great outdoors, be a responsible resident or visitor. Educate yourself. Act in a manner which promotes safety for you and others, and in the process, perhaps, save a bear..


toomanyhats said...

When do we get to see a picture of Mr. Bear??

Kim's Mom said...

Hmmmm. I'll have to see if I can find a picture that would show up well enough it could actually be identifiable! LOL The pictures were taken through closed windows, so a bit "grainy"