Link to Hartford Courant Article
|From the Hartford Courant Article linked above|
Recently there was a Black Bear encounter in a neighboring town that resulted in the shooting of an adult female black bear and the homeowner being charged for killing the bear. This is the second time in almost 5 years where a black bear has been killed by a homeowner and it has once again stirred up the debate on how to deal with Connecticut's ever growing black bear population.
Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with 25 years' experience at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's wildlife division stated :
"I would say the population will continue an upward swing and the costs associated with dealing with bears will increase," Rego said. "It will spread over a bigger part of the state. There will be more frequent property damage and more frequent public safety threats. … The only feasible alternative is to control the population somehow, and I think the most efficient way to do that is through regulated hunting. "
I have been hunting the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey for 34 years now and I have personally seen the Black Bear population explode in this section of New Jersey. Now this area of New Jersey that I am hunting is not very populated and consist of hundreds of acres of state and federal land and it is a place you would expect a black bear encounter or two but not 19 of them in a 5 day stretch which is what I had a few years ago during a spring turkey hunt. One of these encounters included an adult black bear with a younger bear running straight at Busch Pilot and I as we sat at the base of two trees. Both of these bears passed within feet of the tree that Busch Pilot was sitting up against and was by far the closet I have been to a black bear and I have been close to many. I must admit that I felt the need to change my shorts after that one. So encountering one in a tree in my yard would not send me into a panic, but I can see how those with less time around black bears could be sent into panic mode. It is easy for those to comment how harmless they are or that they are more afraid of you then you are of the, let me know of clam and carefree you are when an adult black bear is just feet from you.
I have the ultimate respect for black bears and love to see them out in the woods and I have had many encounters and opportunity to see and photograph bears in the wild, including the video above. I also understand that they need to live as well, but there is also a need to keep their population in check and I agree with Mr Rego about the use of regulated hunting to do so. New Jersey has done many hours of research on their bear population and problems, which I can only assume costs thousands of dollars to complete and the most cost effective wildlife management method they came up with was regulated hunting. For those of us that reside in Connecticut, a black bear hunting season is coming and the fight about this is just starting to brew and will be filled with statements, stats views from the heart from both sides of the room. We must keep an open mind and understand the basics of wildlife management and that is for a healthy population of animals to survive their carrying capacity - which is the number of animals that can be sustained by the environment - must be determined and their population keep inside those acceptable numbers. The problem is great then just keepign them inside their carrying capacity and moves to more of a social equation in that what is the real number of animals the residents of Connecticut are willing to put up with. Educating everyone on the habits of black bears and how to deter them from looking for food at your bird feeder or trash cans will only go so far and hunting will be needed to keep the population in check.
For me this is the same movie only with a different cast of characters and a new setting. One thing for sure, it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.
Additional information on dealing with Black Bears
Black Bears in New Jersey
Black Bears in Massachussets
Avoiding Bears in your Back Yard