A couple of incidents this past week have prompted today’s column about black bears.
First, I received a phone call from my brother Paul, who resides in Vermont. He said a huge black bear had entered his yard and destroyed a birdfeeder and a tree alongside it.
And then, while watching the news on the tube on the black bear problem here in Connecticut, they floored me with a question that showed up on the screen: “Do you think we should hunt black bears here in Connecticut?”
Just out of curiosity, since when do the TV stations handle our wildlife problems here in Connecticut? Have I missed something?
What ever happened to managing our wildlife resources by the CT DEEP Wildlife Division? To the best of my knowledge, they have done a decent job so far, except many times their efforts are hampered by anti-hunting legislators here in Connecticut.
Regarding the black bear population here in Connecticut, it is increasing. So are black bear sightings as well as complaints on black bears causing some problems, including the killing of some livestock.
Do these legislators plan to wait until a human life is taken by a black bear? (Don’t laugh, it has happened in other states all too many times already.) It appears that those with the legislative power to give the green light for a limited black bear hunt here in Connecticut are being controlled by the anti-hunting groups.
They like to preach about letting nature take its course, yet they ignore the fact that we humans have turned nature upside down with all of our building developments, both domestic and industrial.
Sighting numbers are on the increase in our area as well as throughout the state. Now that many bears are coming out of hibernation, the sightings and bear damage will increase.
There are some measures that can be taken where black bears are known to prowl. Take your bird feeders down. Store the seed and feeders indoors. You can use them again in the winter.
Store your garbage cans in a building or shed. Do not leave them out in an area that might attract critters like black bears. Put them out in the early morning hours before pickup if at all possible. (Yes, I know that this does not apply to everyone, but if you are in a bear area this will help.)
Grills and livestock and pet food left out in the open are also an attractant to black bears and other critters like coyotes. You should be thinking pet safety as well as human safety.
Back bears, because they have been forced at times to live in close proximity with us, tend to lose their fear of people. This is not a good thing, although there are some animal rightists that will disagree with this.
When I hunted in Maine, a lady down the street from our camp told me about a black bear that tried to force its way through the kitchen door and into her home — while she was there. She said she had her rifle ready and yelled, and the bear finally left the porch and went back into the wild.
Not everyone was that lucky. A 93-year-old woman in Mora, N.M. had a black bear break into her home through a glass door and kill her in 2001.
Another horrific black bear attack occured in Fallsburg, N.Y. in 2002. A bear knocked a 5-month-old baby from her stroller near the porch of her family’s vacation home. The bear carried the infant in its mouth to the woods and the baby died from head and neck injuries.
On May 21, 2000, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a 50 year-old woman was attacked and partially consumed by a mother bear and a cub 1½ miles upstream from Elkmont, Tenn.
A 22-year-old man was killed in New Jersey on Sept. 21, 2014. He and three friends were warned by other hikers that there was a black bear in the area, but he ignored the warning.
They found the bear. The man and another hiker took photos. They turned and began to walk away, but the bear started to follow them. They split and ran in different directions. The one man was missing. His body was found after a two-hour search.
The same scenario was repeated here in Connecticut, though in this case there was no attack, but what the person did was foolish beyond description. Black bears are wild critters and should be regarded as such.
I have before me as I write this column a report of 25 fatal bear attacks in North America from 1997-2017.
So far, Connecticut has not made that list. I wonder if any of our anti-hunting legislators who are against hunting to control the Connecticut black bear population would have different look if one of their children or relatives became the first Connecticut fatality due to a black bear attack.
Here in Connecticut, we do not need an all-out black bear season, but should allow the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division an opportunity to address the black bear population by allowing hunters in an area that has a black bear problem to purchase a black bear permit with the money going back to the DEEP. Or will we wait for the first fatality before a decision is made?
Hunting is a tool of wildlife management and should be used wisely. We have an excellent DEEP Wildlife Division. Let them make the decision, not some TV poll that does not focus on the real issues at hand.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving our great country.