One of the places I work at is a store which sells bird food; one of the major complaints (or reasons for not buying) is that there are bears in the area. This is commonly followed by: ‘but that (raiding bird feeders) is because we are moving into their habitat’*
I find this insulting to the bears. The modern eastern black bear is a highly adaptable, incredibly successful animal. Current estimates for its annual population increase in Connecticut and Massachusetts are at 15% to 20% Increase each year since the 1990’s. There were No black bears in Connecticut after c. 1840 and probably much earlier. In the 1980’s the gov’t admitted that there was a breeding population that had returned to the state sometime after World War II. Today the population is estimated at between 500 and 800 bears, there are over three thousand in Massachusetts, which also saw its original population extirpated by the 1800’s.**
We are not moving into bear habitat in New England. The early colonialists did. But the current population? That has moved into the state and has increased, even as the human population has increased. Why? Heavy forest combined with lots, and lots, of garbage cans, dumpsters, bird feeders. And that forest? really heavy on black/red oak, lots of acorns there.
This is not some absurdly sensitive predator that can’t deal with the slightest disturbance to its food chain. This is an intelligent, problem solving, omnivore, with a highly efficient metabolism, and good reproductive success. Give it a bit more credit. It can thrive in New Jersey for heaven’s sake!
*I also have to refrain from commenting, since the person almost always has an address of x lane, circle, court, or drive all of which indicate modern subdivisions, that if they are so concerned about the environment, why are they supporting suburban sprawl?
**That is an incredible number, since Massachusetts is only around 10,554 square miles: or one bear for every 3.5 square miles. And female bears have ranges of around five to seven square miles, with males a bit larger…
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