Opinion: Learn to live with bears to keep them alive


By Jennifer Fearing

The controversy swirling around one Placer County bear family is, sadly, nothing new to the many communities that are seeing a resurgence in black bear populations. Like so many other wildlife species, bear populations are experiencing a slow crawl back to normal after being decimated by human exploitation.

Part of that return has them crossing paths with people who build homes deep in bear country – or in the suburbs through which bears occasionally pass but do not stay.

Given their size and potential to do harm, bears create remarkably few conflicts for people. Normally shy and inoffensive, they are, however, famously known to be formidable in protecting their young, and unfortunately endowed with a sweet tooth that finds them attracted to everything from pies cooling on the porch railing to yesterday’s trash left out at the curb.

For such offenses it is not uncommon to see bears killed. But isn’t there a better way?

The short answer to this is “yes,” and a slightly longer one would be “absolutely.” The really long-winded version reads: We have to teach bears how to live with us at the same time that we learn how to live with them. For our part, we can’t be cavalier about managing trash when bears are around. Even bird feeders can lure a passing bear into a yard and in range of potential conflicts.

There are two keys to learning how to live with bears. Don’t put temptation in their way, and teach them that humans are to be avoided. And this is in fact what many communities in bear-rich areas have already begun to do.

Jennifer Fearing is California senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

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Comments (10)
  1. Victoria says - Posted: November 10, 2011

    In addition, contact your governers and representatives to END trophy black bear hunting in California and Nevada. Black bear hunting will again desimate the bear population, it kills sows or mother bears leaving orphaned cubs, and it is unusually cruel. Hunters use dogs with tracking collars to tree a bear (black bears naturally go up trees when frightened, and sows send their cubs up trees), then the hunters shoot the bear while it is up in the tree. These bears are not killed for food but for trophies.
    It is a sick and disgusting hunt. Hunters against bear hunting have said “it’s like killing a cow, the bear just looks at you” and another hunter said “if you ever kill a bear and see it die, you will feel guilty your whole life and never want to do that again.”

  2. John says - Posted: November 10, 2011

    So Victoria, under the rules of debate, once a person is exposed as having used misinformation once then there entire arguement is discarded. But, alas I can show where every single point you make is wrong.

    1) It is illegal to kill sows with cubs. There has not been a charge of a hunter killing a sow with cubs in Tahoe or even in California. I am sure it has happened, but hunters have no desire and frankly hunting bear is easy, its not necessary.

    2) I dont disagree about dog hunting necessarily, but anyway, I dont hunt with dogs. Again, it is not at all necessary. Most bear hunters dont use dogs. Those that do though kill bears at close range and with an easy shot. Its arguable its more ethical.

    3) Bear is yummy. Had bear sausage last night. A typical Sierra black bear will yield over 100 pounds of very good tasting meat.

    No I didn’t kill a bear this year. I didn’t need any more meat. But next year I will hunt bear and refill my freezer.

    Now here is the point. You couldn’t come up with a legitimate reason to end bear hunting. So you manufacture lies to make bear hunting appear abominable. If you want to take a anti-hunting position, at least try to get informed and be honest.

  3. Kathy says - Posted: November 11, 2011

    Stop the bear hunting the Bear facts in Lake Tahoe ,go away Hunters ,we do not want you here,

  4. MoreNativeThanYou says - Posted: November 11, 2011

    John, really? You contradict yourself in your very first paragraph! Just because there hasn’t been a charge of a hunter killing a sow with cubs doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or happen often. I am active with several shelters that take in bear cubs and one in particular has 26 to date. No these cubs didn’t magically appear there mothers were killed by hunters, some on accident and some on purpose.

    Point #2 you yourself have advised that your opinion on hunting with dogs is neither yay or nay. So again what point did you make?

    Point #3 Bear is yummy? Is this scientific, is there some backwoods bear meat taste scale I haven’t come across yet? The point is, is that your response is only relevant to those who actually eat bear meat. This neither proves Victoria wrong or you right. For the most part a large percentage of advertised bear hunting in some way or another refers to the hunt as a “Trophy” hunt.

    So here is the point. You accuse Victoria of not providing a legitimate reason to end bear hunting. Yet you have provided no legitimate reason for it to continue! Sorry John but “Bear is Yummy” will not suffice.

  5. John says - Posted: November 11, 2011

    Kathy, who is the “we” you are referring to? Because at my office we pretty much all hunt.

  6. dogwoman says - Posted: November 11, 2011

    Careful John. She and her multiple personalities might start threatening YOU too.

  7. Kathy says - Posted: November 12, 2011

    Dog women ,sad you do not know the difference of threat or promise,You need to go back to school ,Why are you so slow in understanding ?

  8. Kathy says - Posted: November 12, 2011

    John , I hope the You feel good about yourself ,The votes were more higher in Not killing the Bears ,Maybe you do not belong here in the woods,Do you not like the forest ? How sad it is, people come here and hunt ,Why live in a forest and not enjoy the woods ,and enjoy what there is in it?

  9. dogwoman says - Posted: November 12, 2011

    Yeah, maybe I should go back to school and brush up on grammar.

  10. admin says - Posted: November 12, 2011


    You need to move on. Threatening people or promising to act on a threat in a public forum like this could get you in world of trouble with law enforcement. That’s not a threat, that’s the law.

    Attack opinions, not people. Attack ideas, not the messenger.

    And another threat to another writer will get you kicked off of here in the future.

    Kathryn Reed, LTN publisher