Saturday, July 17, 2010

The bear came back over the mountain

First came word of a black bear roaming around Ewing. Then, according to the July 13 Packet, the (same) bear visited Hopewell in late June before moving on to Lawrence and being seen in a few places there.

"Several broken birdfeeders" may have been his work, the story said, also mentioning that this bear has been caught and relocated three times by DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife. His last stop was Hunterdon County, but there must be something about Mercer County that calls him back.

Theorized to have been ousted from his original territory by an alpha male during mating season, this bear is now wandering. (How "he" was identified as a male bear was not disclosed. Or, since the bear wasn't traveling with cubs in tow, maybe "his" sex was safe to assume.)

Bears have to eat so they may take edibles where they find them. Probably in decades past, they could easily find prey and berries and honey (whatever bears prefer!) but now human development impedes them. So a birdfeeder or two, though not on the traditional menu, becomes acceptable as a source of snack food. How would bears know not to raid a birdfeeder in the course of doing what they've always done: forage for food?

Similar, maybe, are the birds that fly low across roads, right in front of cars. What do they know about cars? How would they recognize vehicles as killing machines? Yet to survive in greater numbers, they must lift up and fly higher -- something they obviously haven't needed to do . . . until now.

Animals are doing what comes naturally and has worked for them for a long, long time. We are the reason they're being relocated, or worse.

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