HAWLEY- A black bear was reported in the Hawley area Wednesday. Reports may be sent to The News Eagle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Where was the bear seen and when? How would you describe it and where did it go?
The PA Game Commission cautions the public NOT to feed bears. The following is offered to avoid human conflict with bears.
Getting too used to humans
Pennsylvania bears are mostly timid animals that would rather run than confront people.
Ternent stressed there are no known records of a free-ranging Pennsylvania black bear killing a human, and there have been fewer than 25 reported injuries resulting from black bear encounters during the past 10 years in the state. However, deaths caused by black bears have occurred elsewhere in North America. Pennsylvania's bear population currently is estimated at 18,000 animals, and reports of problems with bears near residential areas, which could have been avoided through better elimination of attractants, are not uncommon.
Ternent said when bears get used to receiving food from people, it can lead to conflicts, property damage and the possibility of injury, which ultimately will lead to the destruction of the bear. Feeding wildlife, even if just intended for birds or deer, can attract bears too. Bears will continue to return to an area if they know they can find food there. This leads to the bear becoming a problem for people.
Ternent said it is “disturbing” when reports are received about “people intentionally feeding bears to make them more visible for viewing or photographing."
Since 2003, it has been illegal to intentionally feed bears in Pennsylvania. Unintentional feeding of bears, results in nuisance bear activity, can result in a written warning that, if ignored, may lead to a citation and fine.
"We recognize that people enjoy viewing wildlife, and we are not attempting to impact that activity," Ternent said. "But, all too often, complaints about bears can be traced back to intentional or unintentional feeding. To protect the public, as well as bears, we need to avoid the dangers of conditioning bears to finding food around homes. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise."
Avoiding a bear
There are five recommendations to reduce the chances of having a close encounter with a black bear on a homeowner's property:
• Play it smart. Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels or deer, can attract bears. Squash, pumpkins, corn stalks or other Halloween or holiday decorations outside may attract bears. Bird feeders attract bears too. To safely feed birds for those in prime bear areas: restrict feeding season to when bears hibernate, which is primarily from late November through late March; avoid foods that are attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar mixes or suet; bring feeders inside at night or suspend them from high cross wires; and temporarily remove feeders for two weeks if visited by a bear. Encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Page 2 of 3 - • Keep it clean. Don't place garbage outside until pick-up day; don't throw table scraps out back for animals to eat; don't add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile; and clean your barbecue grill regularly. If pets are fed outdoors, place food dishes inside overnight.
•Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. From a safe distance, shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. If the bear won't leave, slowly retreat and call the nearest Game Commission regional office or local police department for assistance. Do not run, approach or hide from a bear that wanders into the yard, instead, slowly walk back to the house.
• Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area's appeal to bears. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut).
• Check please! If your dog is barking, or cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from a safe position, such as a porch or an upstairs window. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don't do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings providing the chance for a close encounter. If bears have been sighted near your home, it is a good practice to turn on a light and check the backyard before taking pets out at night.
Capturing and moving bears that have become habituated to humans is expensive and sometimes ineffective because they can return or continue the same unwanted behavior where released. That is why wildlife agencies tell people that a 'fed bear is a dead bear.'"
Ternent noted that although bears are no strangers to Pennsylvanians, bears are misunderstood by many. "Bears should not be feared, nor should they be dismissed as harmless, but they do need to be respected," Ternent said. He also advised:
If you meet a bear
• Stay Calm. If you see a bear and it hasn't seen you, leave the area calmly. Talk to the bear while moving away to help it discover your presence. Choose a route that will not intersect with the bear if it is moving.
• Get Back. If you have surprised a bear, slowly back away while quietly talking. Face the bear, but avoid direct eye contact. Do not turn and run; rapid movement may be perceived as danger to a bear that is already feeling threatened. Avoid blocking the bear's only escape route and try to move away from any cubs you see or hear. Do not attempt to climb a tree. A female bear can falsely interpret this as an attempt to get at her cubs, even though the cubs may be in a different tree.
Page 3 of 3 - • Pay Attention. If a bear is displaying signs of nervousness or discomfort with your presence, such as pacing, swinging its head, or popping its jaws, leave the area. Some bears may bluff charge to within a few feet. If this occurs, stand your ground, wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear. Turning and running could elicit a chase and you cannot outrun a bear. Bears that appear to be stalking should be confronted and made aware of your willingness to defend by waving your arms and yelling while you continue to back away.
• Fight Back. If a bear attacks, fight back as you continue to leave the area. Bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys, or even bare hands.
Smart and big
"Learning about bears and being aware of their habits is a responsibility that comes with living in rural Pennsylvania or recreating in the outdoors," Ternent said.
Intelligent and curious, black bears are heavy and have short, powerful legs. Adults usually weigh from 200 to 600 pounds, with rare individuals weighing up to 800 pounds. An adult male normally weighs more than an adult female, sometimes twice as much.
Bears may be on the move at anytime, but they're usually most active during evening and morning hours. Bears are omnivorous, eating almost anything from berries, corn, acorns, beechnuts, or even grass to table scraps, carrion, honey and insects.
More information on black bears is available on the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by putting the cursor over "Hunt/Trap" in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, then clicking on "Hunting" from the drop-down menu listing and then clicking on the "Black Bear" in the "Big Game" listing. Also, a brochure on living with black bears can be obtained by putting the cursor over "Self-Help" in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, then putting the cursor on "Your Property and Wildlife" from the drop-down menu listing and then clicking on "Living with Black Bear" in next drop-down menu listing.
HOW TO AVOID BEAR CONFLICTS
1. Don’t feed them
2. Keep garbage out of reach
3. Shout, walk inside slowly
4. Ask neighbors to cooperate
5. Cautiously check why pets are upset
IF YOU MEET A BEAR
1. Stay calm
2. Walk back slowly
3. Wave, shout
4. Fight back if attacked