20 Aug 2014
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Black Bears Are Not Grizzly Bears, Reader Says

Reader disagrees with statement made by Morris Township police officer regarding black bear attitudes toward humans.

Black Bears Are Not Grizzly Bears, Reader Says Black Bears Are Not Grizzly Bears, Reader Says

To the Editor:

Capt. Richard Ferrone spoke incorrectly about black bears. He was quoted as saying, "make sure you stay away from the cubs. They may be cute, cuddly cubs, but mother bear won't take kindly."

Black bears do not get upset if someone is between the mother and her cubs. Lynn Rogers, PhD, has lived with bears and studied them for 40+ years. He has written that mother Black Bears do not defend their cubs against people, she sends the cubs up a tree and waits until humans leave and then she calls them down.

Even the New Jersey Fish & Wildlife site says "sows will vocalize to cubs when sensing danger and both adults and cubs will run away and climb trees to escape disturbances."

There are no reports of a treed bear coming down and hurting anyone. They wait for the neighborhood to calm down at night so they can climb down and head for solitude. Black bears are "aggressive" only in the minds of people who know nothing about bears. Black Bears are not Grizzly Bears.

To avoid attracting a bear to homes, it is important to properly secure garbage and pet food. Especially this time of year, bears are attempting to fatten up for hibernation. If people yell, stomp on the ground, wave their arms and back away slowly, the bear will make a fast retreat. Air horns, supersoaker water guns, rocks and pepper spray are also very effective tools for chasing away bears. So are pop-open umbrellas. 

Taking action to reinstill the bears’ natural fear of humans is called “aversive conditioning.” People are 247 times more likely to be killed by lightning and 60,000 times more likely to be murdered by another human being than to be hurt by a black bear.

Barbara Metzler
Mendham 

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