A few weeks ago, folks eating at a restaurant on 23A at a picnic table watched as a single black bear cross the road walking toward them. To their astonishment, the bear jumped onto their table, stole their meal and ate it right in front of them. Once finished, the bear went back the way he came and narrowly escaped being hit by a car re-crossing the busy roadway.
The eating establishment was not at fault in any way. They thoroughly secure their refuse and dumpsters as required by EnCon Law. Businesses and residents who fail to secure garbage and other attractants can be fined up to $250.00 after receiving a warning and failing to secure their trash.
Incidentally, a bear cub was hit and killed a week later on 23A not far from the picnic table incident.
Tannersville has recently been the epicenter of a rash of dangerous black bear incidents. While its certainly dangerous for the people subjected to close encounters with bears, it’s a lot more dangerous and even fatal for bears.
The adage, “a fed bear is a dead bear” has sadly been proven all too often this year in Tannersville and other locations.
Missy Runyan, of the “Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Center” in Hunter can attest to that personally. The NYS licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator has over 15 years’ experience rehabilitating chiefly large mammals, (including black bears), and birds of prey.
I spoke to Missy, who’s got some well-founded, very definite positions of those who think they are helping bears who feed them, then chastise DEC, local police, and rehabbers like her who have to clean up their mess. Often at great and even fatal expense to the bear.
She recalled one incident where she and troopers were called to the scene of a car-hit bear who suffered a severely broken jaw but was still alive upon their arrival. As the trooper put the suffering bear out of its misery, Missy was the subject of a barrage of hate by a local resident. He screamed at her protesting the bear being euthanized, stating he fed “his” bear every day. He said it would cross the road, he’d feed it a cheese stick, and when the bear became a nuisance looking for more, he would light firecrackers to scare it back across the road. That day, after he ran it off with firecrackers, it got it by a car and had to be put down, yet he had the gall to blame the death of the bear on her and responding law enforcement.
DEC police and biologists are subject to the same insane, reverse logic. People break the law, intentionally and unintentionally feed bears, then rail on DEC and others who sometimes have to euthanize the bear.
Recently in Palenville, a known tagged bear was found in a resident’s kitchen after breaking in to their home. The bear had a documented history of bad behavior, hence the tags in its ears and multiple residents had been broken into by a bear in the immediate area. DEC trapped and euthanized that specific, known problem bear.
Once a bear gets the immense reward of a kitchen or refrigerator full of food, it cannot be aversely conditioned to stop that behavior. The food reward is too great and the “punishment” of being trapped and pepper sprayed etc. far too little to deter it from a proven easy and successful method of getting vast amounts of food.
All it has to do is break in to a home. So even those who are vigilant in keeping food attractants secure from bears become victims since the bear just breaks in and seeks his reward.
You can go to the center’s Facebook page, learn more about the disturbing, misguided behavior of people causing this problem and about her message of “Let Wild Be Wild”
You can read statements like:
“Wonder why bears break in windows? They are not starving in search of food.... They are being conditioned to do it!
PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY FEEDING THEM PIZZA IN A WINDOW!”
Astoundingly, you can go to the Friends of the Feathered and Furry Wildlife Rehabilitation Center’s Facebook page and watch a video of a bear crossing, (where else), 23A in Tannersville, go up to a window, and be hand fed a slice of pizza!
Subsequent DEC Police investigation found a bear in that owner’s yard feeding from a big pot of pasta. The female occupant was summarily ticketed and faces 15 days incarceration and up to $250.00 in fines per each incident.
Drought conditions this year are forcing bears off their natural foragedue to its scarcity, and into more populated areas and human food sources. Let’s not exacerbate the problems facing black bears in our area. The death and destruction of local bears is a people problem, not a bear problem, but the bears pay the ultimate price.
Don’t let area visitors or your neighbors “kill” bears with their alleged kindness by letting them feed them. It demeans our black bear’s status as a majestic wild animal, to that of the musings of a trained domestic animal for some people’s misguided entertainment.
Lets all do as Missy says, and “let wild be wild.”
Happy Hunting, Fishing and Trapping until next time.
Summer Turkey Sighting Survey: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today encouraged New Yorkers to participate in the State’s annual survey for wild turkeys.
During August, survey participants record the sex and age composition of all flocks of wild turkeys observed during normal travel. Those interested in participating can download a form directly on DEC’s website at Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey form (PDF) along with instructions and the data sheet.
Survey cards can be obtained by contacting regional DEC offices, calling (518) 402-8883, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org (type “Turkey Survey” in the subject line).
Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
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*If you have a fishing or hunting report, photo, or event you would like to be considered for publication, you can send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org