Outdoors in Maine: Full of Black Bears in Hunting Ban States

Yesterday morning, while Diane was talking fishing on the phone with a friend in a suburban Massachusetts, her wife was heard shouting in the background: “Tom, Tom, there’s a big bear on the deck knocking things over !”

V. Paul Reynolds, outdoor columnist

Suddenly, the conversation was cut short. It turned out that no one was hurt. We later heard that loud screams and an air rifle discharge scared the bear away. However, some bird feeders and other garden accessories have been hit hard.

That same week, a New Jersey woman was mauled by a 200-pound black bear in Sussex County. She survived. The bear had to be euthanized, which is common practice among wildlife biologists when a bear has a close and dangerous encounter with a human.

In some states, particularly Massachusetts and New Jersey, bear numbers are increasing exponentially, so bear-human conflicts are likely to increase. Sooner or later, more serious encounters are likely as bear populations multiply and bears become increasingly conditioned to humans.

New Jersey wildlife officials say Sussex County’s bear population has increased nearly 70% in one year. Locals said “the bear population has exploded since the state ended the annual bear hunt.”

Predictably, in New Jersey, wildlife officials are once again telling us not to worry, that bear assaults on people are “extremely rare,” and in the other blows that any direct encounter “with such a huge and powerful animal can be fatal”. .”

Bear numbers in Massachusetts are also exploding, with bear complaints increasing in suburban areas of the state. The Bay State has a limited black bear season, but bear baiting was banned a few years ago. As repeatedly explained during Maine’s two bear referendums, which sought to end bear baiting, hunting black bears in fir swamps and evergreen thickets without bait sites is a losing proposition. If you decide to ban bear baiting, you might as well stop bear hunts and be done with it.

So apparently New Jersey and Massachusetts invited soaring bear numbers when they closed bear hunting altogether or banned bear hunting with bait. Since most wildlife biologists view recreational hunting as a front-line population control agent, it is curious that in two different news stories this week on bear problems in Massachusetts and New Jersey , there has not been a single mention of this as a causal factor in the bear density problem.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, author, guide to Maine, and host of a weekly radio show, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at [email protected]

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