Saturday, July 28, 2012

Commentary Regarding the Bears

A concerned commentary regarding the bears in The Meadows from MaryEllen Schoeman:

I know this is really, really long, but I have become very concerned with how habituated our local bears are becoming and want very much to stress that this kind of situation can only end in tears, and usually bloodshed. I'm putting it in the body of this email and also attaching it in Word.

An appeal on behalf of the bears:

I know we all love to see ‘our’ neighborhood bears and it’s fun to watch them.  But… the bears in the Meadows have surpassed the carrying capacity for the land. That means that the populations of bears is more than the land can actually support. This means that people are feeding them. Some people, I’m sure, are feeding them accidentally by leaving dog food out or leaving unsecured sheds or garages where food is stored. But I am equally sure that some people are feeding them deliberately.

I’m begging you, please stop. These bears are becoming far, far too habituated to humans and are now seeing human habitations as a food source. Bears are cute, but they are not harmless. I recently made the mistake of leaving a bag of dog food outside – I thought that since it was in a big plastic tub, and that tub was latched tight and locked inside of a welded wire cage, it would be okay for just one night. A bear came that night, dragged the cage for several feet (this cage is so heavy it took four big guys just to shove it out of the back of a pickup truck), and then bent the door at both top and bottom until it could get to the food. This is not a wimpy little cage made of chicken wire or hardware cloth, it was a welded cage of heavy-gauge wire. The bear bent the door like it was nothing. I have also found bears sleeping in my carport several times, which indicates that they are getting used to sleeping in human-constructed places. This is terribly unsafe, both for the bears and for the humans – approaching your car at dawn and clicking your car alarm? Could result in a very confused, frightened bear charging out of the carport at the only exit it knows – right where you are standing.

If you have been feeding bears, or letting them sleep on or around your deck, porch, etc., it is essential that you stop before a big disaster happens. Don’t let the recent ‘successful’ darting and relocation of the Glendale bear fool you into thinking that this is what will happen if one of ‘our’ bears gets too bold. It is usually not done that way (the Dept. of Fish and Game needed some good PR after the mountain lion debacle), and is misleading – the Glendale bear has not, in fact, been released, it is still in custody and will most likely be sent to a sanctuary to live out its life in captivity. That is not what we want for our bears, nor do we want them killed for being  ‘problem’ bears.

Also remember that feeding bears can lead to human tragedy, too. Remember the story from several years back of an elderly lady who had been feeding them for fourteen year. The bears started fighting one day and she tried to break it up, and was killed and eaten. Most reports of bears breaking into houses and killing people are also because people had been feeding them.

This is the time of year when young bears would naturally begin to disperse to new areas, in search of food and other resources. But if there is plenty of food around, they will not disperse, resulting in ever-increasing populations. But, that also makes this time of year a good time to start cutting back on feeding them. Cut back gradually, and then start putting food out on an irregular pattern, one night but then not for a few nights, etc., until you stop completely.  The bears don’t need food or shelter from you. They need to be allowed to go live the life that nature intends for them.

I am no expert on bears, so if anyone else has any good advice on how to wean them from human contact, please weigh in. Let’s all keep our bears safe, even if it means we see them less often.

MaryEllen Schoeman
Owner, Wild Things Pet Sitting


claudia said...

thanks for that mary ellen!

Anonymous said...

Never mind the bears... What about the cougars? I took one of my late night/early morning strolls under a full moon, and as I headed down Canyon Crest to where the stream crosses the road, I unknowingly passed a mountain lion somewhere in the brush on the left/residential side of the street. About 75 feet later, I heard a bunch of commotion behind me. I tried to convince myself it was a neighbor cleaning the yard, but who would be doing that past 3:00 AM? Besides, all the little critters on the hillside were bustling all over the place – much more than usual. When I decided to head back home, a loud, low growl came from the brush as I passed what I assume was a mountain lion. It wasn't a bobcat. fox, raccoon, and certainly not a bear. I've heard all of those animals before, so it HAD to be a big cat. I became an unofficial Olympian and ran the 200 meter dash in record time. I tried to catch a glimpse of the cat, but that growl wasn't friendly...


MaryEllem said...

Just so you know Andy, running away from a mountain lion is the very worst thing you can do. Also, your experience kind of proves my point - the mountain lions are not nearly as habituated to humans as the bears are.

There are quite a few mountain lions around, I'm sure we have all seen those dinner plate size footprints if not the lions themselves, so it does pay to be careful while walking around between dusk and dawn. The lions I have encountered I have mostly just watched in awe, the one that seemed to notice me took off after some yelling, matador-style coat flapping, and a few chucked rocks.

Anonymous said...

I read when encountering a mountain lion we're supposed to make ourselves bigger, louder (like you noted), and that running was not a bad option. With bears, we crouch. I waited around for five minutes or so before heading up the road. I just wasn't sure what the commotion was. I would imagine seeing one at the time of night/morning I did was maybe the worst time. I've seen just about everything in the Crest (including a badger that chased my car in anger as I drove about 10 mph!), but I have never been around a cougar (that I was aware of anyway). He/She was pretty disgusted with me.


Sandra said...

Tonight @ 11:25 pm I was driving up Canyon Crest only to see a BEAR in the middle of the road. This was approx 50ft south of the Smokey sign. Luckily, my bright headlights had him heading back into the brush. This bear appeared very large as he turned around, looked at the headlights, then ran away. This was a real wake up call that we really do live in the mountains...

MTB said...

FYI, last night around 11pm (8/15) there was a bear in our yard. We live at the end of Canyon Crest in the cul-de-sac. No food was out and all our trash bins are empty given trash day was Tuesday.

I hope the bear returns to the wild. I would hate to see it captured or have something worse happen to it....Teresa

Anonymous said...

We live on Canyon Crest between the bend up to the Meadows and Lincoln. There was a bear in our yard around 9pm last night (8/17). I had noticed the morning before 2 of my neighbors trash cans knocked over, but I didn't look closely to see if they had just been bumped or if a bear had been there - it certainly made me wonder. He didn't stay long and then it sounded like he went back down into the canyon.

Timothy Snyder said...

Last night I was driving up Canyon Crest Rd. as I approached my house I spotted a bear across the street, at which time I honked to scare it away. At this point the bear ran up the driveway into the back yard of the neighbor and disappeared.
Loud noises scare them away, but do not encounter them on foot. An air horn will deter them but do not stay outside!