Black bears: 'Appreciate the gift they truly are'

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    As a certified naturalist and wildlife rehabilitator I was deeply saddened to see the photos of the 13-year-old, 829=pound black bear that was killed during New Jersey’s six-day bear hunt. Living here in Warwick I feel we are privileged to share our forests with black bears. I never tire of seeing them out in the wild, it’s always exciting. I know many people here in our town who share my feelings about the bears. I truly hope that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is managing its hunt with real science behind it, because if they aren’t, and they continue to allow the killing of 400-500 plus bears each year it won’t be long before the entire population is wiped out. It will once again be rare to see a magnificent black bear in the wild. If the N.J. DEP are trying to keep bear populations in check then they ought to get their Black Bear Program out to the public and educate the masses on how NOT to feed bears instead of killing so many bears each year. If bears eat only their wild natural foods then their population will stabilize to the number of bears that the food source can provide for. Less cubs will be born or survive to adulthood. In a natural ecosystem, bears aren’t like deer who need predators to keep their numbers in check. The public needs to be taught how to lock up their garbage, use bear proof garbage containers, put their bird feeders on cables at least ten feet in the air (or don’t feed birds unless the bears are hibernating) only put vegetable scraps in compost piles, don’t feed your pets outside and clean up anything that would attract bears like dirty grills, fallen fruit and dirty animal cages. If a neighborhood has a problem with a bear(s) and people don’t comply with the bear feeding law, then fine the offenders and re-educate them. If a bear truly becomes a threat to human life which is about as rare as getting struck by lightening, then euthanize that bear. Having a hunt does not take those problem bears out of the population, most of the bears killed were those in the forests eating natural foods, not the ones living under the deck raiding the garbage cans. I wish we could all learn to live side by side with our black bears and appreciate the gift they truly are. Carol Linguanti Warwick