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Black bear safety tips

August 20, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

For many people in this nation, the only way to see a real, live bear is to visit the zoo. For people in the Adirondacks, though, bears can turn up in our back yards or on a stroll in the woods.

Hopefully, local folks were reminded of that recently after a man and his dog got into a fight with a black bear in Stratford, on the southern border of the Adirondack Park.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said the dog was off its leash when it encountered the bear, which attacked it. The man intervened to separate the animals, and the bear attacked him, too.

The DEC said the man chased the bear off by hitting it on the nose with a stick. Brave guy. It's more evidence of what we've always been taught: that black bears, at least, ultimately are more afraid of humans than we are of them.

Thankfully, state officials said none of the injuries the pair suffered were considered life threatening. However, we hope the incident serves as a reminder for people in the area to be safe and take sensible precautions.

If people encounter a black bear, the DEC recommends the following:

Never approach, surround or corner a bear. Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective, the DEC said.

Never run from a bear. Rather, stay calm, speak in a loud and calm voice, back away slowly, and leave the area.

Use noise to scare away bears from a campsite. Clap, yell or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near a campsite.

Do not throw a backpack or food bag at a bear. Doing so will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" people to get food.

Food is the main reason for human-bear conflicts in the Adirondack Park, and they are more likely to seek out food sources when natural food is scarce. That would be springtime and in the summer during dry periods.

It may sound like common sense not to feed the bears, yet the state of New York reminds visitors and residents that feeding bears is illegal.

The common saying is "As fed bear is a dead bear." When you feed a bear, it becomes conditioned to seek out more food at that source, and the animal soon becomes a nuisance. Eventually, it can become dangerous, and the DEC will have to kill it to remove the threat.

That happened in September 2012 when the DEC shot and killed a 90-pound yearling black bear in downtown Long Lake. It was getting too close to humans because residents were feeding it. One woman fed the bear a mixture of milk and maple syrup after it began visiting her property in the spring. Then she began preparing nightly meals for it, such as macaroni and potatoes, and the bear sometimes slept underneath her porch.

DEC spokesperson Dave Winchell said at the time that the bear was killed because it had lost its fear of humans and was actively approaching humans seeking food, becoming a public safety hazard.

Bears were living in the Adirondacks before humans were and are a wonderful part of nature here, but nature can be dangerous. Make sure to be safe.

Learn more about bear safety on the DEC's website:



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