How To Get Along With Black Bears
You can live in peace with bears—and here's how.
According to Dr. Lynn Rogers, any one of us has a better chance of winning the lottery than we have of being harmed by a black bear. And he should know. Rogers has been studying black bears for more than 40 years, and has formed the BEAR Group, which stands for Bear Education and Resources.
The BEAR Group presented a program at Camp Jefferson on Wednesday night, and told residents how they can learn to live in harmony with bears.
The most important thing that residents should remember about keeping bears at bay is to eliminate the food source that they crave.
According to BEAR Group literature, residents should keep garbage indoors or well secured until just prior to pickup, and use bear resistant garbage cans.
Once a bear knows it will get handouts, he will keep coming back for more, she added.
If you see a bear, you should yell, stomp on the ground, wave your arms and back away slowly.
The bear is more afraid of you than you are of it, according to the group’s literature. But it is important to remember never to corner a bear and always allow it an “escape route.”
When a bear feels threatened, it may charge at a person, but then stop short and either slap the ground or snort. This is a normal form of bear communication. Bears may also flatten their ears against their heads, make huffing noises or clack their jaws together.
Hikers are encouraged to carry air horns and pepper spray to ward off bears.
The BEAR Group also advocates aversive conditioning, which teaches bears that they “interacting with humans will result in harassment. They will quickly learn to associate these ‘off-limit’ locations with ‘punishment’ and will retreat to the woods and swamps where they belong,” BEAR Group literature says.
Aversive conditioning tools include Supersoaker Water Guns, air horns, pepper spray, a garden hose or a pop-open umbrella.