Bears -- guilty until proven... dead?

Thumbnail image for black bearThe state Department of Environmental Conservation has set up a bear trap near the northern Greene County home of the woman who was knocked down by a bear Wednesday. A DEC spokesman tells the TU that the agency will kill the first large adult bear it catches in the trap -- even though they can't be sure they'll get the bear that attacked the woman. [AP/Fox23] [Daily Mail] [TU]

So, bears apparently do not enjoy due process. And the policy seems so blunt (and, you know, kind of vengeful) that we almost wonder if something got mixed up in its communication. Because what if DEC catches a bear, kills it, and then another bear (perhaps the bear) comes back and harasses someone again. Does DEC set another trap, and kill another bear (and so on and so on) until the bear encounters stop?

And get this: a 2002 survey conducted for DEC of New York State residents north of NYC reported that more than half of respondents disagreed that bears who repeatedly caused problems for people should be killed -- and the survey even noted that "identifying specific problem bears can be difficult." About 65 percent of respondents said they supported relocating problem bears after negative conditioning. (Here's more info from the DEC about black bear management.)

Bears that become habituated to humans are a serious problem. And it's a problem that humans often help cause (that's not to say that's what happened in this most recent case). As Roland Kays, the State Museum's curator of mammals, explained to us a few years back:

So please don't feed the animals. You're causing problems for all your neighbors. And by trying to help the animal, you could end up getting it killed. What happens is that a bear becomes a nuisance and it gets shot. And the person whose fault that was was the person who started feeding it.

It's illegal to feed bears in New York State -- even indirectly, if you've been given notice.

The DEC reported last month that black bear populations are "thriving" in the state and "represent a great resource for all New Yorkers."

Update: The woman was attacked told Fox23 that she thinks the bear should not be killed.

Earlier on AOA: Foxes and fishers and bears, oh my!

photo: Flickr user peupleloup

Comments

Um, I don't want bear policies to be decided by public opinion polling. Let's leave this one to the experts, folks. They're bears.

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