Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Black Bear Scares

Misconceptions are not facts, which can breed unnecessary fear and panic. Take the case of black bear sightings. People panic, but in reality, shouldn't necessarily be afraid.

Black bears are not generally dangerous to humans, but that doesn't mean I'm going to send my kids out to go play with them, either! Their staple foods are basically vegetation, nuts, berries, grubs, and salmon, but occasionally will feast on small animals. Attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Habitat destruction is the main reason we see them in our neighborhoods. Highways, malls, new housing developments, etc, have made them more visible in our towns and even cities.

Black bears aren't prolific breeders like rabbits. Females are about four or five years old before they are ready to start a family, and once they give birth, spend a few years raising them. During this time, they do not produce any more young. There are more sitings of bears not because there are so many more of them, but rather that they are more accustomed to humans and have less space to spend in the wild.

Many people are afraid that if bears stop fearing people, they will be more prone to attack. This is quite the opposite, according to numerous studies.

Years ago, a friend told us of a friend of his that encountered a black bear in the woods. The man was afraid he couldn't out run it, so decided to "play dead". The concerned bear cautiously approached and gently shook him, apparently trying to revive him. When the bear began making soft, sad sounds, he decided to play along and slowly "woke up". Our friend told us that the two began to playfully pat each other! Obviously, the man lived to tell about it--over and over again!

Bears are also easily scared. A neighbor told us of the time one was spotted by their back door. The husband opened the door and quietly said, "Boo". They were amazed--and amused--that this was enough to send the bear scampering off!

Simply put, bears that are afraid of being attacked may themselves attack. Experts advise people to speak softly to identify yourself, and slowly back away. This will let the bear know you mean them no harm.

Those that growl or otherwise try to scare people off often are doing so to protect their cubs, or have found food they don't want to leave.

We need to be informed. For more facts on bears, check out these sites:

http://www.bear.org/website/Bears-Humans/

http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/black_bear.php

--LKR

2 comments:

Wild Adventures Girl said...

Yes unfortunately man seems to need or is want so much more space for himself and then the animals have no where to go to.

I agree with you it's nothing to be scared of but I wouldn't exactly let my kids play with them either.

I think as humans we'll jut have to be a bit more accomodation of other "beings". I wouldn't want to live in a world that had no variety of life.

Leza said...

Thanks! If people understood animal behavior better, I believe they'd be more at ease with all creatures.

Even with dogs, I've noticed over the years that people are now more fearful of them when they bark, chase, or playfully run along side them because they do not understand the nature of canines.

With bees, too, I have to remind my children that in the spring, they are "friendly" and more docile. Bees are more curiously exploring and scouting out new places for hives and food. In the summer, they have an agenda to find and collect food, so if you move slowly around them, they won't see you as a threat. Late summer, they are in panic mode, and that is the time to avoid them, giving them a wide berth.

If people got more out of "self" and thought more of others, including animals, there would be less misunderstandings and intolerances.

Thanks again for your comment! :-)