New York, New Jersey consider strict bear laws; Alberta lagging on grizzly bear protect and news about a polar bear-grizzly bear hybrid in Canada
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY isn’t the only area concerned about potentially dangerous encounters between humans and bears. The AlternativePress.com, an online news service in New Jersey, reports that there has been an 82 percent increase in black bear nuisance reports over the previous year. The bears are persistently showing up at school buildings, bus stops, playgrounds, campgrounds and restaurants, or repeatedly visiting trash dumpsters or neighborhood trash cans.
The number of Category 1 bear incidents, involving black bears exhibiting behavior that is an immediate threat to human safety, or causing agricultural damage or severe property damage, increased 96 percent from 2006 to 2009.
State conservation officers have inspected more than 4,600 residential properties in affected areas and found 98 percent in compliance with black bear garbage management guidelines. This spring, Conservation Officers are focusing enforcement efforts and education outreach on commercial properties in high bear incident areas.
During a recent hearing, New Jersey officials discussed possible changes to bear management policies, including penalties for persons who feed bears or lure them into populated areas. At the same time, conservation officers will focus public education on co-existing with bears, practical efforts to reduce conflicts between bears and people, a controlled hunt, as well as more research and monitoring of the bear issue. Read more here.
Similar news from the Adirondacks of New York, where the state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing a comprehensive ban on feeding black bears, including when it is done incidentally, such as with bird feeders or garbage. Existing laws ban feeding bears within 500 feet of schools, playgrounds, paved roads, campsites and landfills. The new regulations would ban the feeding of bears everywhere, whether or not it was incidental or intentionally. Exceptions would be allowed only in limited instances for bear research and management purposes.
There’s absolute, unequivocal evidence that when bears are fed by people, intentionally or incidentally, it almost always leads to trouble. That’s because once they start being fed artificially – in other words, not gathering food from the natural environment – then they start to associate food and survival with being close to people and homes.” said wildlife biologist Gordon Batcheller.
Last year in the Adirondacks, a total of eight nuisance bears were shot and killed or euthanized in the Adirondacks by the DEC or others between May and April. In previous years, DEC euthanized an average of one nuisance bear per year, while an average of one to two nuisance bears are shot each year. Read the whole story from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise here.
In Alberta, members of an advisory group say Alberta is putting politics before science by delaying a decision on protecting the province’s dwindling number of grizzly bears. An Endangered Species Conservation Committee for the province told the government that grizzlies should be listed as threatened because there are fewer than 700 grizzlies left in Alberta. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Alberta Forest Products Association, the Alberta Fish and Game Association and Alberta Beef Producers all have representatives on the committee. The group also includes academics, First Nations and conservation groups.
Members of the conservation committee told the Canadian Press that the non-decision is political, based on “a fear of what happens if they list the species and how they are going to manage our resources.” Like in the U.S., there are concerns over how a listing could affect access to grizzly bear habitat, which could affect resource projects and recreation. Read more ….
And finally, scientists have confirmed that an “odd-looking” bear shot by a hunter in the High Arctic is a rare grizzly-polar bear cross. The bear may be the first recorded second-generation “grolar bear” found in the wild, according to a press release from Northwest Territory Environment and Natural Resources Department. A warming climate has prompted hungry grizzly bears to increasingly move north, encroaching on polar-bear turf, according to experts. That migration means the two types of bear are expected to come into contact more often, competing for territory and, potentially, mating. More of the story is online here.