A different kind of bear season
The early black bear hunting seasons in New York are still a couple months away. However, summer ushers in a bear season of its own, where it’s the bears that are doing the hunting – for food.
This can be a tough time of year for bears as they wait for natural food sources like berries and nuts to become available. Meanwhile, factors like drought and the dispersal of younger bears from their family groups can also play a role in their ability to find food. Thus, they look for the easiest food source.
I’ve never liked the term “nuisance” as it is applied to bears that inconveniently interact with humans. After all, the bears are only doing what comes naturally to them and that is following their nose in an attempt to fill their stomachs. That often leads them to places like campgrounds, remote campsites, backyard bird feeders, garbage cans, cooking grills, and in some cases, even dwellings.
The end result is usually not good for the bear. Two bears were recently euthanized near Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks after they had broken into a scout camp dwelling. Bears that enter dwellings are obviously considered dangerous by the Department of Environmental Conservation, which must deal with many of these instances.
Quite often, it’s we humans who get bears in trouble. We leave food and coolers out at our campsites and some people even intentionally feed bears, finding it entertaining. The problem is bears quickly learn how to acquire food, and in some cases that means intimidating humans or even destroying property, including vehicles.
A few years ago, while visiting a campground near Old Forge in the southwestern Adirondacks, we were told upon check-in to not only put our coolers away at night, but also to cover them up inside our vehicles. Apparently, a bear had recently spotted a cooler in the back seat of a car and did some extensive damage to the car to get to the cooler.
One night during our stay, we heard a bunch of noise coming from a nearby campsite. People were hollering and banging pots and pans. Sure enough, we watched as a large black bear made its way through the campground.
The High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, a popular hiking and camping destination, may be the epitome of bear/human encounters. Bear-proof canisters, which sometimes aren’t all that bear-proof, are required in parts of the region. Still, you hear reports where bears have learned to chase people off while they’re cooking. Some have destroyed hiker’s packs.
I always tell aspiring bear hunters that if they really want a sure-proof encounter with a bear to head to the High Peaks. However, this is remote country and it would not be easy to get a bear out should a hunter harvest one. But they are there, regularly.
The DEC has loads of information on how people should prepare for and deal with bears, especially during the summer months. Click here for more.