Man Charged For Feeding Bears

Do not feed wildlife!

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

How hard is that to understand?

In an earlier article I reported on an incident involving the feeding of people-food to a black bear 3. 4 miles outside the north gate to Banff National Park.

In a national park in Canada, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act. But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

Such is NOT the case in Vermont where a Montgomery (Vermont) man was charged by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for intentionally feeding bears.

Jeffrey Messier, 54, was charged with feeding bears after Game Warden Sgt. Carl Wedin received a report of a bear being killed in self-defense at a neighboring residence on June 22, according to an agency report.

Sgt. Wedin responded and recovered the bear. Its stomach contained a large number of sunflower seeds.

The investigating warden went to Jeffrey Messier’s residence where he discovered evidence of bear feeding and encountered a bear walking around the residence. The bear showed no sign of being afraid of people and walked right up to the warden.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The bear then approached a picnic table where sunflower seeds were placed. It was obvious to the warden that this bear had been intentionally fed on several occasions and had lost its fear of humans, according to a Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department news release.

Further investigation by Sgt. Wedin revealed that several other bears also came to the residence often enough to be named and that many of them in recent years may have been killed or injured in incidents with other landowners.

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, black bears are found in most forested portions of Vermont where they rely on wild foods such as berries, cherries, beechnuts, apples, and acorns to survive. But the department also points out that bears can easily become attracted to other foods such as birdseed, garbage, and pet food.

“Bears are normally shy and not aggressive toward humans,” says bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

“However, a bear that has been fed by humans soon loses its shyness and can become dangerous, especially to the landowner feeding the bears and to their neighbors. Often, as in this case, fed bears will seek similar foods elsewhere, and in the process cause property damage and scare people not expecting to find bears on their porches and in their back yards.”

“At this time we are responding to reports throughout the state of bears causing damage while attempting to get at chicken feed, bird seed, stored garbage, and food kept in screened porches. In most cases this does not end well for the bears.”

“People such as Mr. Messier that feed bears often think they are helping them,” said Hammond. “But in reality such behavior causes problems for other landowners and often ends with the death of the bears being fed. When we start receiving multiple reports of bears causing problems in an area we most often find that someone is intentionally feeding them.”

The intentional feeding of bears is illegal in Vermont. If convicted Messier faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a one-year revocation of his hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

bear-blog-deadbearDon’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

Read More

How Stupid Can You Be?

How stupid can you be?

A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)
A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)

How can anyone be stupid enough to feed wieners, pepperoni sticks, and bread to a black bear?

That’s the question wildlife officials are asking following an incident on the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11) near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19.

Jeff Bingham, a wildlife photographer witnessed the event as it unfolded.

“Confronting people is not the answer,” he wrote on Facebook, where he posted a photo that shows the license plate on the vehicle.

“So I found a Parks Canada person, and reported it.”

Parks Canada investigated the incident and determined it took place about 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) outside the north gate to Banff National Park, the Calgary Herald reports.

In a national park, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act.

But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

“It is certainly not something our officers condone,” Brendan Cox, spokesman for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, told the Herald.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

“Outside of a park, there is no specific violation that refers to feeding wildlife in this way.

“Officers will try to discern the license plate and the owners of the vehicle so that the people involved in this case can be educated about how irresponsible it is to feed bears, or any wildlife for that matter.”

The discrepancy concerns those who work to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife.

“That worries me, because now people will think they can get away with that,” said Kim Titchener, director of Bow Valley Wildsmart.

“We don’t want people feeding wildlife…they might think it’s fun and it’s cute and they get this great picture, but they’ve killed that animal. They are responsible for that animal’s death now.”

Provincial officials said they will keep an eye on the bear to determine whether it has become habituated.

“If it learns to associate people with food, then it’s possible it could be approaching people for food in the future,” Cox explained to the Herald.

“Officers will monitor the situation and reassess it if there’s any future incidents.”

Should the bear get into trouble again, it could be captured and either euthanized or relocated.

Although incidents of feeding wildlife are happening less frequently, there have been a few high-profile cases in recent years, both within and outside of the protected areas.

“I don’t know where people are missing that message,” said Titchener.

“This is a long-standing message since the ’70s.

“Don’t feed the wildlife.”

An expert with Parks Canada told the Herald it could be a bear that officials have handled in Banff National Park.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

“In the photo, they are saying there was a green ear tag,” said Brianna Burley, human/wildlife conflict specialist with Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks.

“That does fit with a bear that we did tag around Saskatchewan Crossing last summer and it wouldn’t be unheard of at all for a bear to wander.”

She was concerned about the bear’s welfare if it was fed along the road.

“They start becoming food conditioned,” explained Burley.

“That association between people and food leads to aggressive behavior from bears, which ultimately can lead to injury to people.

“It leaves us for very little room for any management decision and can very often lead to the destruction of those animals.”

Burley said they are noticing more incidents of people feeding wildlife within the park.

“When this came across my desk and we were trying to figure out where it happened, I wasn’t surprised by it,” she said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had more and more reports of this and I am not sure why that’s happening.”

Burley also reminded people to report any bear sightings within the park to Banff dispatch rather than just post it on social media sites.

The Banff dispatch number is 403-762-1470.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

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Bear Sightings in Arizona Prompt Bear Awareness Tips

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said campers, hikers, and outdoor people need to be aware that bears may already be emerging from hibernation after two recent sightings were reported.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department wants the community to be “black bear aware” following the first sightings of the season near the Peppersauce Campground and on Ft. Huachuca.

“A black bear was sighted within 100 feet of the campground approximately 7 p.m. Sunday, February 16,” said Mart Hart in an Arizona Game and Fish news release.

“The campers abandoned the camp and reported the sighting.”

In addition, a hunter reported sighting a female bear and cub on Ft. Huachuca in January, Hart added.

Bears have been observed sporadically during the winter months in southeastern Arizona, suggesting that warmer weather may have shortened annual hibernations, from which black bears typically emerge in March, usually males before females.

Additionally, consecutive dry winters and intermittent seasonal rains, coupled with lingering environmental impacts from the Monument and Horseshoe Two fires, suggest that there may be more cases of bears visiting residential areas this year, according to Hart.

“Bears in search of food are often attracted to homes and into proximity with people. This close contact puts both humans and bears at risk. Most conflicts are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage, bird feeders, garden areas, or trees bearing fruit,” said Raul Vega Regional Supervisor of Game and Fish in Tucson.

bearsign03a“Fed bears can lose their fear of humans and begin to associate humans with food, sometimes causing property damage and even injuring people. But conflicts between humans and bears are preventable.”

Campers should never take food into a tent, use deodorizing sprays if storing food in cars when a bear-proof box is not available on-site, and clean themselves off thoroughly after cooking as well as change clothes afterward that may have lingering odors.

Recognizing the potential risk to both humans and bears, the Arizona Game and Fish Department spends considerable time and money each year relocating bears.

Unfortunately, this effort does little for the bears. Some bears must be destroyed because they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people.

Following removal or relocation, campers may experience more problems from a different bear if the identified attractant is not eliminated.

Relocating a bear is also traumatic for the animal and does not guarantee it will live. Some are killed by larger, older bears that have established territory in an area.

If a bear is in your campground and refuses to leave, immediately contact the Game and Fish office at 520-628-5376 or at 1-800-352-0700 evenings, weekend, and holidays.

Depending on what the bear is doing, department personnel may respond if it remains in the area.

If you see a bear in the distance, alter your route to avoid it. On the rare occasion that a bear approaches you, discourage it by:

  • Making yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items, and make loud noises
  • Do not run and never play dead
  • Give the bear a chance to leave the area
  • If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away

The black bear is the only bear species found in Arizona. Although fur color varies and includes brown, cinnamon, and blond, they are all considered black bears. It is the smallest and most widely distributed North American bear.

Black bears:

  • Weigh 125-400 pounds with males being larger than females
  • Are three- to three-and-a-half feet tall when on all four feet
  • Eat primarily acorns, berries, insects, and cactus fruits
  • Live in most forest, woodland, and chaparral habitats, and desert riparian areas
  • Roam an area of 7 to 15 square miles
  • Produce two to three cubs born in January or February
  • Live up to 25 years in the wild
  • Most active between dawn and dusk
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It is unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in Pima and Cochise counties. Violations can result in a fines ranging from $300 in Pima County to $2,500 in Cochise of up to $300.

For additional bear awareness tips and stories, click here.

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

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A BEAR-ly Believable BEAR Story

A woodlot owner near Grand Falls, New Brunswick, says he’s lucky to be alive after a bear attacked him in the woods.

Gilles Cyr
Gilles Cyr says he’s lucky to be alive after a black bear attack. (Source.cbc.com)

Gilles Cyr was out for a walk through his woodlot when suddenly a large black object ran out of the woods and attacked him, reports the CBC and Postmedia News.

To prevent the bear from killing him, Cyr grabbed its tongue in a desperate bid for survival.

“When I opened up my eyes it was on top of me—with the friggin’ noise, it’s crazy the way it growls. Right from the stomach. It’s not from the mouth, it’s just inside,” said Cyr.

“His mouth was wide open right in front of my face so the last thing I remember I had his tongue in my hand and I didn’t want to let go because he was trying to fight me off. So he was hitting me with his claws, so I says, ‘If you’re going to hurt me, I’m going to hurt you too.’ So he was biting his tongue at the same time.”

Cyr said grabbing the bear’s tongue was out of instinct.

“For a second, I thought I was dead … that’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you open your eyes and see that friggin’ mouth full of teeth and a tongue in there. It’s like … an extreme sport,” he said with a chuckle.

Cyr said he managed to escape behind a tree.

The bear still managed to claw his stomach and bit his knee. The animal eventually lost interest and decided to walk away.

Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)
Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)

He was treated for superficial wounds at the hospital.

Cyr said that a warden told him he has permission to track down the bear and kill it as a nuisance animal—however an official with Natural Resources said Cyr may require a permit.

This is not the first near miss with a black bear in New Brunswick.

In August a forestry worker was chased and attacked while working in the woods near Oromocto Lake. Pierre Mezzetta of Fredericton required some stitches and a night in hospital following the attack.

In July a black bear chased a Fredericton man into his home. He was not injured but the bear made off with his garbage.

The province’s black bear population has jumped to 17,000, up from about 12,000 eight years ago.

A provincial biologist said one reason for the rise in the bear population is because of a drop in hunting.

Thirty-five years ago, New Brunswick sold more than 12,500 bear hunting licenses. Last year, it sold barely more than 5,000.

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Bears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Don’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)
The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Proper food storage and clean camping techniques are important to avoiding an encounter with a bear.

When walking in the woods, be alert, make noise, and carry bear repellent pepper spray and keep it handy.

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

Read More

Being Bear Aware

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

bearsign03aBears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Don’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Avoiding Dangerous Encounters with Bears

Proper food storage and clean camping techniques are important to avoiding an encounter with a bear.

Food-conditioning of bears can be prevented by heeding several simple precautions. Following these tips will help ensure a safer visit for you and the bears.

Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)
Conservation officers try to scare bears away, but that’s hard to do with ones that have become habituated to human food or garbage. (Source: yukon-news.com)

Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.

Reduce or eliminate odors that attract bears.

Keep a clean campsite.

Store food, garbage, toiletries, and stoves in a recreational vehicle, car trunk, or approved bear-resistant containers. Coolers are not bear-resistant.

Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease, or dish water lying around the campsite.

Obey all closures and warnings.

Never put food scraps in the campfire.

Do not keep food, or anything with an odor, in tents.

Any strange odor will attract a bear. Bears will target motor oil, insect repellent, liquor, and other items that look or smells like food.

Make your presence known by talking, singing, carrying a bell, or other means, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.

Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.

Don’t approach a bear; respect their space and move off.

When walking in the woods, be alert, make noise, and carry bear repellent pepper spray and keep it handy.

Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray for emergencies. Bear pepper spray should be used as a deterrent only in an aggressive or attacking confrontation with a bear.

Using bear spray

  1. Remove safety clip
  2. Aim slightly down and towards the approaching bear. If necessary, adjust for cross wind
  3. Spray a brief shot when the bear is about 25 feet away
  4. Spray again if the bear continues to approach

bear-blog-deadbearOnce the bear has retreated or is busy cleaning itself, leave the area as quickly as possible, but don’t run. Go to an immediate area of safety, such as a car, tree, or building.

Do not chase or pursue the bear.

Be aware that extreme heat or cold may affect the performance of the product. Canisters have been known to explode if left in a vehicle in summer. Each canister also has an expiration date.

“In most situations, bears will avoid humans. But, bears can become aggressive when searching for food. Once a bear receives a food reward, it becomes habituated to humans and will usually return to the same place, or look for another campsite or garbage can. That’s a death sentence for the bear,” said Bighorn National Forest ranger Clarke McClung.

Conflicts with bears should be reported to your local game warden or Forest Service office.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety.

Part 2: Human Encounters with Bears Turn Deadly

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

Read More

Human Encounters with Bears Turn Deadly

Recent media reports detail numerous human encounters with black bears.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

In most instances the bears became food-conditioned, lost their natural fear of humans, and become a threat as they roamed in search of an easy meal. These bear was either relocated or euthanized by rangers because they posed an obvious human safety risk to campers.

Several samples of these reports follow.

Black Bear Killed at Yellowstone Campground

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that a black bear that refused to leave a Yellowstone National Park campground after getting a taste of human food there was killed by park staff.

The 142-pound adult male black bear entered the Canyon Campground and came within six feet of a man and woman eating.

The campers backed off, and the bear ate some of the food off their table. It then went through their garbage and pawed at their tent.

As the bear left their campsite, it checked out tents, fire pits and bear-proof trash bins, and food-storage boxes at other campsites.

Rangers hazed the bear out of the campground, but it returned later in the day. Out of a concern for safety, the bear was shot and killed later that night.

Bear Aggression at Colorado Campgrounds

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The Aspen Times reported that a bear tried to break into a car less than 30 feet from a campsite, and set the car alarm off five times in one evening. The next day, a large black bear broke into a car in the Difficult day-use parking lot with several people watching. The bear bent a door and broke a window before leaving the lot with a bag of marshmallows in its mouth.

“People need to remember that black bears are smart, wild, and very strong,” said Roy Schoepf, a Difficult Campground camp host.

“The bear we’ve been seeing pushed over all four of our bear-proof dumpsters on one visit. They’re fearless and can do a lot of damage if they want.”

There have been multiple bear sightings at the Difficult Campground, as well as several surrounding campsites.

The public needs to be aware that dealing with bears is serious business and caution must be taken at every level.

Colorado has a “two-strike” policy under which bears may be tranquilized, ear-tagged, and relocated once if they are in an inappropriate location or they have engaged in episode(s) of “nuisance” behavior. If that same bear has to be physically dealt with again (tranquilized or trapped due to inappropriate location or nuisance behavior), the bear is put down. Bears that pose a public safety risk will be put down regardless of whether they have ear tags or not.

Bears are territorial and get into a habit of returning to where they find food.

Black Bear Killed at New Mexico State Park Campground

MyHighPlains reports that New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers trapped and killed a black bear after it tore open a tent with two campers inside in the Lake Alice Campground at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton.

The women in the tent were able to escape uninjured and set off their car alarm, which scared the bear away.

Department officers who responded to the call said the bear apparently was attracted to the campground by birdfeeders hung by campers. The bear went from campsite to campsite, knocking over birdfeeders and grills before raiding the women’s tent.

The women did not have any food in their tent. Most other campers in the campground were sleeping in camp trailers.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)
The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

The bear was killed because it posed an obvious human safety risk to future tent campers.

“We can’t emphasize this enough: When you are camping, don’t put up birdfeeders or leave any other food sources out that may attract bears or other wildlife,” Conservation Officer Clint Henson said.

“In this case, putting out birdfeeders put everyone in that campground at risk and resulted in the bear’s death.”

Bighorn National Forest Visitors Urged to be Bear Aware

A USDA Forest Service news release reports that Wyoming Game & Fish Department game warden trapped a black bear in the Bighorn National Forest.

The 4-year-old male bear had received a food reward from a camper in the Dayton Gulch area earlier that morning. That evening, the bear returned for more. The bear was euthanized.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety.

Part 2: Being Bear Aware

Worth Pondering…

In many cultures, the bear was looked upon with such reverence that members of the culture were not allowed to speak the word for “bear “. Instead, they referred to the animal with varied and creative euphamisms. Several names were used by the Navajo and other native groups—Fine Young Chief, He Who Lives in the Den, and Reared in the Mountains.

Read More

Arizona Bear Count Reaches Three

Numerous bear sightings and activities and bear attacks have recently been reported by officials in various regions of the U.S. and Canada.

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Today’s post focuses on Tonto National Forest in the Payson, Arizona area.

Arizona authorities have now killed three bears in Tonto National Forest after three attacks on three people since May 31. Since 1990, there have now been a total of 10 confirmed bear attacks within the state, KPHO-TV, Phoenix, reported.

Game and Fish Department officials said two packs of hound dogs picked up the scents (June 24) of two bears near the Ponderosa Campground, east of Payson, site of the recent attacks.

A male American black bear was found one mile below the campground and a large adult female was found in Hellsgate Wilderness.

The hounds chased the bears into trees and officials fatally shot both bears.

The third bear was killed by Game and Fish ground crew.

Authorities said they are conducting tests on the dead bears to ensure they are the ones involved in the non-fatal attacks.

Tonto National Forest officials have temporarily closed all six campgrounds in the Payson ranger district until at least July 15 because of the bear attacks. They recommended campgrounds in the Coconino and Apache Sitgraves national forests for people who desire to camp.

The black bear, which is the only bear species found in Arizona, is considered the least aggressive of North America’s bears. Black bears are normally shy, bashful animals that seek solitude in densely vegetated areas.

Although the black bear population in the state is estimated to be near 3,000 animals, bears are rarely seen and when they are spotted, they typically run from humans.
That typical bear behavior though can be altered by the influences of humans, and those bears can become dangerous and problematic.

Bears that become accustomed to and unafraid of traffic, noise, and human activity, and particularly those that begin to associate people with food sources, are more likely to become involved in a human-wildlife conflict. A bear that enters a campground has already demonstrated habituation, and even a small bear can overpower an adult.

The family of the most recent bear attack victim, who was attacked June 24 while camping at Ponderosa Campground, asks campers and outdoor recreationists to take precautions when camping outdoors in bear country, Cerbat Gem reports.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)
The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

While the investigation shows that the victim had taken the proper precautions to secure his food and garbage, Arizona Game and Fish Department officers believe that the bear responsible for the attack had already been habituated and conditioned to people and came to expect to find food or garbage in human-inhabited areas.

“Game and Fish is asking the public to do their part to keep bears wild and afraid of humans by not being complacent with food sources and garbage bins in areas where bears are known to live,” said Brian Wakeling, game branch chief and a wildlife biologist with extensive experience with black bears.

“We ask all residents and visitors to Arizona to take personal responsibility to not only protect yourself and your family, but to help minimize the chances that human behavior could change a bear and create a future public safety threat.

Drought conditions are likely a reason more bears, are coming into campgrounds in search of food.

Campers are reminded to take the following precautions to minimize bear encounters.

  • DO NOT be a contributor to food-conditioning
  • Keep your campsite clean; store food items and trash away from your tent or RV
  • Store food in air-tight containers in RV or car trunk
  • Keep food waste and garbage in a secure bear-proof container
  • Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease, or dish water lying around the campsite

Other potential food attractants include pet food, uncleaned BBQs, and even orchard fruit on the ground. The food odors attract bears that have a very keen sense of smell. Even an empty food wrapper can attract a bear from a long distance.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

If you do encounter a bear, try to scare the bear away by making yourself look as large as possible, making loud noises and throwing objects towards it. Do not run. In the rare event of a black bear attack, fight back aggressively.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…

In many cultures, the bear was looked upon with such reverence that members of the culture were not allowed to speak the word for “bear “. Instead, they referred to the animal with varied and creative euphamisms. Several names were used by the Navajo and other native groups—Fine Young Chief, He Who Lives in the Den, and Reared in the Mountains.

Read More

Bear Pulls Camper from Outhouse

A Winnipeg, Manitoba, man is recovering from his injuries after a black bear dragged him from an outhouse and slashed and bit him repeatedly before a friend intervened and shot and killed the bear.

Credit: tundracomics.com

Gordon Shurvell, 65, was home late Tuesday (May 21) after being treated and released from a hospital in northwestern Ontario.

And he can thank one of his best friends, Daniel Alexander, also of Winnipeg, for possibly saving his life.

The attack happened on Saturday at 6 a.m. at a camping site on Crown land about 36 miles north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, near Dunbar Lake, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

Sgt. David Pinchin of OPP Sioux Lookout said Shurvell and his 63-year-old friend were camping in the area when Shurvell went to a wooden outhouse and left its door open.

A black bear then dragged the man by his arm and shoulder, before biting him on the back of his head and neck.

The bear also slashed at his arms, neck, and head. The attack lasted about one minute before Alexander grabbed a gun and shot the animal.

“If you had seen your friend being dragged by a bear, how do you think you would react? Alexander told the Free Press.

“I reacted by instinct … when in a life and death situation you react by instinct. You do what you have to do. I shot the bear.”

Alexander said his friend was bleeding badly, but he managed to stop some of it before they quickly headed to the hospital in Sioux Lookout.

Source: myhaironfire.wordpress.com

“You have to understand bush life: we’re not five minutes from a phone, we don’t have cell phone service,” he said.

Shurvell’s son said it was a terrifying ordeal for his father.

“He was on the john … pulled right from the outhouse,” said Dan Shurvell.

“The bear had him by the shoulder. He’s scratched up pretty bad.”

The man went to hospital for treatment, including a rabies shot, said Pinchin. “He had puncture wounds to the back of his head and neck and slash marks to his arms and back of the head,” Pinchin said.

The officer said police have had a lot of calls about bears in the last couple of weeks, but those animals were non-aggressive.

When asked about the friend who shot and killed the bear, the officer said he would do “the exact same thing.”

“I would fight back and if I had a firearm, I’d kill the bear,” he said.

How to stay safe in bear country

Many people like to enjoy nature closely, by hiking in backcountry and mountainsides. But when you are in bear country, you should be careful and prepared.

Bear Safety Tips

Make lots of noise. Especially important when you are on a trail with restricted visibility, as well as those times when the wind is blowing towards you, meaning that bears will not have the benefit of your scent.

What is most important is for the bear to hear your approach long before you are within its personal space.

Travel in groups. Groups of people tend to make more noise, therefore reducing the chances of a bear encounter. Larger groups also offer the added benefit of appearing much more threatening and thus less likely to attract a bear attack.

Stay alert! Even though you may be making noise, it is still important to always stay alert and on the lookout for bears.

Always carry bear/pepper spray, and make sure that it is quickly accessible. It will be useless if it is buried in your pack. Bear sprays are an effective deterrent in very close range, emergency situations.

The black bear has an acute sense of hearing and smell but has relatively poor eyesight. (Source: oklahomawildlifecontrol.com)

If you see a bear, stay calm and give it plenty of space. Do not startle it; detour slowly, keeping upwind if you can, so it will get your scent and know you are there.

When a bear first detects you, it may stand upright and use all of its senses to determine what and where you are. Once it identifies you it may ignore you, move slowly away, run, or it may charge.

On four legs, a bear may show agitation by swaying its head from side to side, making huffing noises and clacking its teeth.

A charge or retreat may follow. Flattened ears and raised hair on the back of the neck indicate aggressive intent. If a bear runs with a stiff, bouncing gait, it may be a false charge.

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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Bear Attack Reported at Arizona Campground

An Arizona woman was injured this morning (May 1) when a bear ripped a hole in the tent where she, her husband, and their dog had been sleeping at Ponderosa Campground in Tonto National Forest, just off Highway 260 about 10 miles east of Payson.

Grizzly bear attacks tent. (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

The attack occurred around 4:30 a.m.

After tearing open the tent, the bear reportedly stuck its head in and clawed at the 74-year-old woman, leaving her with bruises and a laceration on her scalp. She was treated at Payson Regional Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

The woman’s husband and dog were not hurt.

A large adult bear had recently been seen hanging around the campsite dumpsters. A wildlife manager with Arizona Game and Fish Department visited Ponderosa Campground yesterday looking for the bear, but it was not found.

A culvert-style trap was set. The wildlife manager talked to the campground host about precautions, and all campers were informed of the bear threat.

The bear returned to the campground sometime during the night. The campground host chased the bear, which retreated. It returned a short time later and attacked the campers in their tent.

Personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services are on scene and working with Game and Fish officers, using dogs to track the bear from the scene of the attack.

“Public safety is our first priority,” said Jim Paxon, information chief with Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“This bear poses a threat to public safety and therefore needs to be lethally removed.”
The Department will conduct a forensic necropsy to confirm that the captured bear is the one responsible for the attack. Disease testing, including rabies, will also be conducted by an outside laboratory.

Officials have evacuated campers and closed Ponderosa Campground. Lower Tonto Creek/Bear Flat/Forest Road 405A have also been closed to entry. An official closure will be put into effect by the Forest Service until the bear danger lessens.

“The bear was probably looking for food, which is scarce this summer because of drought,” Paxon said.

“These campers secured their food in the cab of their truck, and there was no food in the tent. While the campers were with the campground host and medical personnel, the bear came back to the tent a second time, ripped another hole in it, and then went after a pillow that had blood on it from the woman’s wounds.”

Bears are very active during the summer, Paxon added.

“It’s important to stay alert. Bears are attracted to places like dumpsters, trash bins and campsites. Whether folks live here or are just visiting, they need to remember this is bear country. Never leave food out, and never take food into a tent.”

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Bear attacks on humans are rare. There have only been seven documented cases of bear attacks in Arizona since 1990, including this one.

Bear Safety

It’s important to be informed about bears and what to do when you come into contact with them.

Bears are not tame, gentle, or cuddly; they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous.

Bears are naturally wary of people and are reluctant to come close to humans. However, if you do encounter a bear there are some important things to remember:

  • If the bear is spotted in the distance and has NOT seen you, back away (without running) the way you came while keeping the bear in view; remain calm and avoid direct eye contact
  • If the bear is at close range, back away slowly
  • If you need to move forward, give the bear as much space as possibly
  • If the bear is standing up, it is usually trying to identify you; talk softly so it knows what you are; if its snapping its jaws, lowering its head, flattening its ears, growling, or making ‘woofing’ signs, it is displaying aggression
  • Never come between a bear and its cubs or animal carcass, as the bear will protect them; slowly back away and leave the area the way you came
  • Carry pepper/bear spray when venturing into the wild
  • Report all sightings to Park Staff
What's worse than a grizzly bear attack? When that grizzly bear comes back to attack again. An Alaskan biologist was the recipient of two attacks but survived, and harbors no grudge against the grizzly. (Source: Newscom)

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

Worth Pondering…
Alive, the grizzly is a symbol of freedom and understanding—a sign that man can learn to conserve what is left of the earth. Extinct, it will be another fading testimony to things man should have learned more about but was too preoccupied with himself to notice. In its beleaguered condition, it is above all a symbol of what man is doing to the entire planet. If we can learn from these experiences, and learn rationally, both grizzly and man may have a chance to survive.
—Frank Craighead, Track of the Grizzly, 1979

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Bare Facts on Bears

Grizzly Bear Kills Hiker in Yellowstone National Park

A grizzly bear is shown in this undated photo. A grizzly bear killed a man hiking in Yellowstone National Park on July 6, 2011. (Credit: Getty Images)

A couple’s hike off South Rim Drive, south of Canyon Village and east of the park’s Grand Loop Road, Wednesday (July 6) morning, turned tragic when they surprised a grizzly bear sow and her cubs. Brian Matayoshi, 57, of Torrance, California, was hiking with his wife, Marylyn, on the Wapiti Lake Trail when they encountered the bears as the couple emerged from a forested area into an open meadow.

The hikers first spotted a bear about 100 yards away and began walking in the other direction, but when they turned to look back they saw the female grizzly charging at them down the trail, according to an account issued by park officials.

The couple began running, but the bear caught up to them and mauled the husband, then approached the wife, who had fallen to the ground nearby.

“The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping her,” the park statement said, but the woman remained still and the grizzly lumbered off.

Yellowstone and surrounding areas are home at least 600 grizzlies. Once rare to behold, grizzlies have become an almost routine cause of curious tourists lining up at Yellowstone’s roadsides at the height of summer season.

These tourists have been flooding into Yellowstone in record numbers: 3.6 million last year, up 10 percent from 2009’s 3.3 million, also a record.

It was the park’s first fatal grizzly mauling since 1986, but the third in the Yellowstone region in just over a year amid ever-growing numbers of grizzlies and tourists roaming the same wild landscape of scalding-hot geysers and sweeping mountain vistas.

Officials also issued recommendations for visitors to stay safe from backcountry bears:

  • Stay on designated trails
  • Hike in groups of three or more
  • Make noise in places where a grizzly could be lurking

Bear spray—pressurized hot-pepper residue in a can—can be effective in stopping aggressive bears, they said.

Bears in Canada

Grizzly bears have a distinctive muscular shoulder hump, and the claws on the front paws are large, strong and slightly curved. (Credit: edu.pe.ca)

Canada is home to approximately 380,000 black bears and 26,000 grizzly bears, half of whom are found in British Columbia, according to the Nature Conservacy of Canada.

Avoid Bear Attacks

To avoid unwanted encounters with bears adhere to the following precautions:

  • Obey all park regulations, stay on designated trails, and comply with posted warnings
  • Solo hiking is not advised; the risk of an attack is reduced hiking in a group
  • Always keep children nearby and in sight
  • If possible, keep pets at home. Free-running pets can anger a bear and provoke an attack
  • Make warning noises and loud sounds, e.g., attach bells to hiking boots
  • Pepper/bear spray has been effective in deterring some bear attacks; however, do not rely on it as a substitute for safe practices in bear country

Bear Facts

  • Bears are as fast as racehorses, on the flats, uphill, or downhill
  • Bears aggressively defend their food
  • All female bears defend their cubs; if a female with cubs is surprised at close range or is separated from her cubs, she may attack
  • Bears are strong swimmers
  • Bears have good eyesight and hearing, and an acute sense of smell
  • All black bears and young grizzlies are agile tree climbers; mature grizzlies are poor climbers but they have a reach up to 13 feet
  • All bears will defend a personal space; the extent of this space will vary with each bear and each situation; intrusion into this space is considered a threat and may provoke an attack

Know Your Bears

Are you able to tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear? Color is a poor indicator of bear species as both species can range in color from blond to black.

Black bears are North America's most familiar and common bears. They typically live in forests and are excellent tree climbers, but are also found in mountains and swamps. Despite their name, black bears can be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon, or even (very rarely) white. be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon, or even (very rarely) white. (Credit: canoe.ca)

Some unique grizzly features include a pronounced shoulder hump, silver or light-tipped guard hairs on their head, and ears that appear smaller and are rounded.

Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis Ord)

Color: Range in color from black to light blonde, mostly medium to dark brown in color; the long hair usually has a lighter tip, hence the grizzled look

Height: Approximately 3½ feet at shoulder; 6-7 feet when erect

Weight: Average 350-500 pounds; larger grizzlies can reach 800 pounds

Shape: Distinct shoulder hump

Face: Depression between the eyes and end of nose; short, round ears

Claws: Very long (2-4 inches)

Habitat: Prefers semi-open spaces; high country in late summer and early fall; valley bottoms late fall and spring

Black Bear (Ursus americanus Pallas)

Color: Range in color from black to light blonde, often with a lighter patch on the chest or at the throat; reddish-colored bears are common in the west

Height: Approximately 2½-3 feet at shoulder; about 5 feet when erect

Weight: Average 110-300 pounds; larger males can reach 600 pounds

Shape: No shoulder hump like the grizzly

Face: A straight line runs between the forehead and end of nose; roundish pointed ears

Claws: Shorter (about 1½ inches)

Habitat: Prefers forested areas with low-growing plants and berry-producing shrubs, small forest openings, streams, and lake edges

What to do if a Bear Attacks

Every encounter is unique and the following are offered as guidelines only to deal with an unpredictable animal and potentially complex situation.

Your response depends on the species and whether the bear is being defensive or offensive.

Bears sometimes bluff their way out of a confrontation by charging then turning away at the last moment. Generally, the response is to do nothing to threaten or further arouse the bear. Remain calm and avoid sudden movements.

Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. Remember that a standing bear is not always a sign of aggression. Many times, bears will stand to get a better view.

While fighting back usually increases the intensity of an attack, it may cause the bear to leave.

Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety.

Previously posted: Are You Bear Aware?

Worth Pondering…
When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old First Nations saying

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