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Friday, July 6, 2012

Say Hello To Your Newest Neighbor: The Black Bear

If you live in a metropolitan area, you’ve probably seen some wildlife creeping into your neighbor now and then. Maybe some wild turkeys, a deer, even a coyote or two. But in the last few weeks there’s been an uptick in black bear sightings in unusual places.

Residents of Vineland, New Jersey recently spotted a bear walking down the street. A bear that climbed a tree in the backyard of an upscale home in the Boston suburb of Brookline caused a huge uproar. And in Tampa, Florida, a bear passed by a McDonald’s restaurant.

Wildlife biologist Gary Alt told Here and Now’s Robin Young that most of the black bears venturing into cities are males looking to establish new territory.

“Their mothers kicked them out their natal home range between the age of 18 months to 30 months and they strike out on their own,” Alt said. “They will often disperse 10, 20, 40, 50 sometimes up to a hundred miles away. Those are the ones that most often wind up in urban areas.”

Alt said that this is just the tip of the iceberg, because black bears are very good at adapting.

The black bear population has risen dramatically in the past few decades, especially in the east where many former farms have reverted back to forest.

Wildlife managers say we better get used to them and start figuring out ways to live harmoniously with the American black bear.


  • Gary Alt, biologist and principal scientist for the environmental consulting firm Normandeau Associates and former bear habitat manager for the state of Pennsylvania.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • L_pritchett

    Hi – I”m the author of Great Colorado Bear Stories -  We’re having a bunch of bears coming into town as the result of wildfires. Interesting times ahead!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/cxrfreeman Ross Freeman Levin

    Oregon is having a different problem with bears from that described in today’s segment. Here is some information on the topic 

  • Maynard

    When bears are hungry and thirsty they go looking for food and water.  Everything they do is a matter of survival.  Unfortunately for them, humans are now living on huge swaths of what used to be their habitat.  While it may be true that a number of old farms have reverted to woodland, it is also true that urban sprawl fueled by explosive human population growth has taken from the bears and other wildlife many times the amount of land than the old farms have yielded.  The appearance of bears  in our neighborhoods should not be joked about.  Most are suffering from extreme hunger, thirst, and stress, which they feel as acutely as we do.

  • Reality22

    Maynard, Your disnification exceeds your humanity. Your the reason our Federal government spends 75 million dollars every year on wild horses……. Why don’t you get the courage to stand up before congress with your bleeding heart and give them a good sob story on how your bears need to be treated more humanely. I thank god we have visionary ecologist that understand the need to control some of these animals for the benefit of humanity & our existence……turning everything back to 1471 will not feed the people, benefit the animal kingdom or turn back bankrupting  a nation. The ecologist that slant ecosystems to the benefit of people are the ones most smart people support. Keeping bear and wolf populations at levels that don’t cost the taxpayer his next born are important to beneficial ecosystems.

    • Maynard

      Yes, the bear population is too high for the much reduced size of their habitat.  For that reason, I am not opposed to regular kills (culls) carried out by trained woodsman. I would also support, if it is possible, the introduction the kind of birth control stations that have reduced the excessive deer population in some areas. Certainly, a quick bullet to the brain or the prevention of birth is preferable to letting them suffer.  But you don’t seem to offer any vision of a sustainable balance.  Just bring on a billion more Americans in the next hundred years (or as long as the ecosystem can function), hack down more forests (if they’re not already destroyed by fire) to make room for them, and let the bears and other wildlife suck it up. Even if we didn’t have a bear problem, how many billions of people do you think can ultimately be sustained on the land mass of the United States?

      • Reality22

        Maynard,  What get my goat is the law suits by these so called environmental groups that try to delay or stop delisting of things like the wolf & grizzly bears….  Neither of which are endangered in any way shape or form.   If the dollars that are spend on the prolonging something most of the local people don’t want were spent on preserving habitat these animal would be much better off….. there are some pretty upset local people from Michigan to Idaho regarding wolf delisting that animal does not live well around people…..

  • Spitfiremk1

    Saturday my wife and I were at Friendly’s for ice cream and
    I told her about the story of the bear ringing the door bell and the  older lady opening the door to come face to
    face with the bear.  She got a mental picture
    and nearly choked on her banana split! 
    We both thought of the old Andy Williams show with the bear at the stage
    door begging: “Mr. Williams, I was wondering if you could spare a cookie?”

  • shagua563


  • shagua563


  • http://www.facebook.com/PehnMarques Pehn Marques


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