Saturday, September 10, 2022

Discussion time: Bears

More than of the state’s bear population lives in the Adirondack region. So it’s no big surprise to have some bear/human interactions in our communities.

This year, however, the activity is either on the rise or the number of “problem bears” has increased. It’s not good news, regardless, as it has resulted in a higher number of dead bears. So far in 2022, the DEC has euthanized 16 bears in northern New York, compared to just two last year.

It’s an issue we’re looking further into and invite you to share your stories. Have you had a negative bear encounter? What steps do you take to “bear proof” your home and yard? What are your thoughts on euthanization? Should we be doing more to educate visitors about bears? Send your thoughts to me at or leave a comment here.

And here’s a story we ran on the Explorer site recently, from our partners at the Times Union.

Photo: Black bear in Raquette Lake by Jeff Nadler, archive photo. 

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

22 Responses

  1. Bill Quinlivan says:

    The bears are not the problem. We have increasing numbers of new residents and visitors having no history of actually seeing a bear in the wild let alone having any real desire or knowledge on how to coexist with them. More education is definitely needed and euthanization should be illegal excepting the most blatant cases. Most often, negative encounters are food / trash related and most often connected to human fault and ignorance of these creatures and their right to existence in this home of THEIRS. We are guests here. Don’t do things that draw these creatures toward you or your home. I lived 14 years in the Indian Lake area and sure I have seen bears and evidence of their existence quite often, but these things are not negative encounters. If they are for an individual, then that individual needs to seriously question whether they belong living or visiting here.

  2. Mark Friden says:

    Was the third word omitted from the first sntence?

  3. DAISY says:

    I second Mr. Quinlivan’s opinion. The Abenaki culture refers to bears and the bear clan as the hospitality people. I’ve been here 35 years. I’ve seen bears in my yard almost every year. I can tell if they’re around at night because I hear sequential dogs barking as one makes its way from apple tree to apple tree along the hillside. They’ve never created a problem in my neighborhood beyond taking garbage to the woods (IF someone has foolishly left garbage out). Indian Lake NY is home to many headwater streams of the Hudson River. We are at the head of the wildlife and wilderness corridors that are the essence of the Adirondacks. Wildlife needs this unbroken open space for their habitat. I treasure the wildlife and I am pleased that we can share our homes compatibly.

  4. Ron Turbide says:

    In the 70s, while hiking the high peaks, my hiking buddy and I never saw a single bear while afield. We hung our food high in bags and tried to keep our campsites clean. Mice in the leantos were more of a problem. Either the bear population has increased dramatically on its own or hikers have become negligent with respect to food management or both. I hope that the bear encounters don’t result in human fatalities or bear spray will be necessary as is the case in several of the national parks out West. I think that the increased popularity of recreating in the mountains, especially by “newbies” some of whom haven’t researched carefully the correct methods to use while afield may well be contributing to the current situation.

    • Steve B. says:

      The bears started migrating back to the woods after the state mandated all open pit garbage dumps be closed (1970’s ?). Thats when we started encountering frequent bears in the HPW, where they found hikers easy picking. I remember well a bear figuring out the white parachute chord tied to a tree meant a hanging food bag and it was easy to claw away till the bag dropped, which happened to a buddy and I at Lake Colden one late summer night. Had we paid attention, the deep claw marks on about every tree should have clued us. Shortly after, the state started requiring near canisters, but even with those in use, its amazing how stupid people can be and they still have bear/human conflicts.

  5. Boreas says:

    Whether bears are fed or not, the more often they interact with humans, usually the less they fear humans and our habitat. This doesn’t bother the bears, but it bothers some of us.

    Deer and many other animals are the same way. Centuries ago when animals were harassed and hunted by humans, they learned to avoid us, and this behavior was passed to their offspring. One whiff of us and they fled. Fear of humans has been slowly bred out of many animals. Even in my lifetime, I remember bears would skedaddle at the distant sound of a barking dog. Now they may actually be attracted – looking for dog food. Raccoons, the same. Fewer negative encounters with humans leads to less instinctive or learned fear. We can’t really be gentle, benign neighbors with animals and expect them to fear us and keep their distance. After all, this is how many species began to be domesticated.


    8 BILLION HUMANS! HUMANS! and, some humans have the ego to incorrectly apply human faults to innocent bears to euthanise bears. SHAMEFUL. Bears are far more peaceful, respectful, and safer than humans and of no trouble to anyone-except morons who leave garbage. CONTRACEPTION FOR HUMANS! HUMANS! THE WORST SPECIES!

  7. Joseph Van Gelder says:

    Bear meat is very good.

  8. Jeffrey Lee Farrell says:

    I think u r getting a little bear killing crazy!!!. Why aren’t they traquillized and relocated to a pess or non populated area. There is no reason 2 kill them. When the population drops u will say it’s cause if global warming or somewhere left wing crazy cause .u people up north must b getting cabin fever or just lszy

    • MOFYC says:

      What area of the state is less populated than the Adirondacks, which are home to some of the least populated towns and by far the least populated county in the state?

      Often these so-called problem bears are found in the forest preserve “harassing” campers? The permanent resident population of the forest preserve is ZERO!

  9. Jeff Foster says:

    I don’t feel bears need to be euthanized. Only in a extreme circumstance should that happen. Trap or tranquilize them and move them deeper in the woods. Jeff

  10. joseph Pepe says:

    Killing the bears is not the long term solution.

    Educating visitors to the region will have a much greater impact on decreasing the number of problem bears. A flood of signage describing the damage feeding bears and leaving garbage unsecured and unprotected causes to the bear population and the danger it imposes on unsuspecting and uneducated visitors will have a greater positive impact.

    The signage should be flooded in the towns of Old Forge, Inlet, Eagle Bay, Raquette Lake and Blue Mountain. Also enforcement of the laws with stiff fines should be encouraged by local law enforcement.

    Joe Pepe
    Raquette Lake

  11. JT says:

    In 2021, NYS hunters harvested 1,346 bears. The few that are euthanized is far less than the total harvest. You cannot just trap, tranquilize and relocate these bears. Bears travel to find food sources such as mast crops, or if it is a poor mast crop year, they will find human sources of food. If all humans were 100% disciplined about not providing food for the bears, then there would be no issues. So I believe humans are the problem. With legal hunting and a few euthanized, we still maintain a healthy bear population.

    • Boreas says:

      Indeed. Another issue no one has brought up is the underfunding of DEC. Much cheaper and quicker to kill them than the cost to tranquilize and relocate problem bruins – especially multiple times. Give the officers a break – it isn’t laziness if you are understaffed and underfunded. And don’t forget – tranquilization can be unintentionally lethal sometimes.

  12. Mike says:

    Yes, people are the problem. Total mismanagement of the bear population. You can put all of the blame on the DEC and people like Gov. Phil Murphy. What do you do with a booming nuisance bear problem after you ban bear hunting in New Jersey? Well, you simply ship them to New York of course! Let New York euthanize them instead of allowing hunters to take them humanely so you can virtue signal. Nuisance bears can travel well over 100 miles back from where they were relocated, they need to be shipped long distances. Stop pretending to be champions and heroes of bears by letting them wander in your backyard. Im not a hunter but bears need to be properly managed and harvested by the people who will hunt them and not let them go to waste. Politicians/ government have a track record of mismanaging and wasting everything, including bears.

  13. Mike /Phyllis Sinclair says:

    We live in Sugarbush and are hobby beekeepers. A bear entered our apiary and did some damage but at the time the electric fence wasn’t working. Since the fence was fixed we have had no more problems. we see bear scat and have caught a bear on a trail-cam. A neighbor who also keeps bees had her apiary raided also–also when their electric fence wasn’t functional.

  14. Randy says:

    So what is the population of the bears that live in the Adirondack region?

  15. Joseph Van Gelder says:

    A lot of fuss over a hairy pig.

  16. Gerhardt says:

    I’ve hiked in the Adirondack for over 60 years and have seen a grand total of one bear in the woods.
    I think the problem has been magnified by the ignorance of many of the people now hiking. Most simply want to quantify the woods and get their”46’r” badge or take a Selfie of themselves to post on social
    Media. In speaking to many of them they have never actually spent a night in the woods, no little if anything as to why the park was established and are ignorant to the ecology, biology, history or philosophy of the woods. As a consequence they are too casual with their trash and behavior-this leads to bear issues.
    It not the fault of the bear, it’s the fault of the dullards pretending to be woodsman. It’s also the result of social media advertising insignificant events that are voyeuristically blown out of proportion.
    There should be a requirement, similar to a hunting license, that requires any entering the park should pass a written exam.

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