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Fish & Wildlife warns against feeding bears
After yesterday's picture of a Momma Bear and Cub just 4-5 miles from Adair County was published, the BRBB, now on full alert, asked that this story on Not Feeding the Bears.
(Commonwealth News Service. Story appoved by the Adair County Blue Ribbon Bear Board) - After having to capture and relocate a wild bear from a neighborhood in Henry County, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) is reminding the public that feeding black bears is not only ill-advised, but also illegal.
Kentucky has a slowly increasing population of black bears, most of which are found in the far eastern end of the Commonwealth. Estimates of the number of bears in Kentucky are not available yet, but work to determine the population is underway. Bears have naturally migrated into the state from Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. The KDFWR is not involved in a bear restocking effort, but supports the presence of the species with laws to protect bears.
As the numbers grow, bears will continue to expand their range. Kentucky has a good deal of habitat in its eastern forests and mountains that can support bears. Occasionally, a bear will wander long distances from where it is born after leaving the care of its mother. Such was likely the case with the animal that recently made its way to Campbellsburg in northcentral Kentucky.
"After the bear showed up, the landowner made a common mistake and began feeding the animal," said KDFWR's Big Game Program Coordinator Jonathan Day.
"That more or less forced our hand and we then spent several manhours and incurred the unnecessary expense of having to capture the animal and relocate it," explained Day.
"It most likely would have moved on to less urban territory on its own, had it not been invited to stay and enjoy free food.
"This bear was fortunate. Feeding bears puts them at risk by no fault of their own. Sometimes feeding bears ultimately results in getting the animal shot by a landowner or other person," Day said.
"They get used to people offering handouts, and when that source disappears, they will move closer to homes.
"If the natural fear of humans is reduced, bears can wind up on porches, in garages, and inside storage buildings looking for a meal.
"That's usually when we either get a call to come try to move a bear, or to report that somebody killed a bear.
"We'd rarely get those kinds of calls if people would simply leave bears alone and let them exist in the wild as they are meant to," said Day.
"People who enjoy seeing bears, and the idea that bears are coming back to Kentucky share a common sentiment with the KDFWR," said Day, "but artificially feeding them with the good intention of helping them is ultimately more detrimental to their comeback than anything else."
So remember, if you encounter a wild bear, watch it, take a picture, call your friends and tell them what you saw, but don't make the mistake of feeding it so it will stay around your house, pets and neighborhood.
You could easily find yourself the reason why the bear winds up being destroyed, rather than becoming a contributor that increases his kind for you to enjoy more often in his natural environment. Which choice really matters most?
This story was posted on 2007-06-29 06:46:05
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