Wednesday, March 29, 2023


bear cubs

Diminution: I – BEARS, rev.

Author’s note: Spring is almost upon us and the bears will be coming out and eventually down to our villages and towns; will eventually have unhappy altercations with homeowners as food becomes scarce and they get hungrier. They will also get shot and killed — 16 last year alone by the DEC.

This poem is both a memorial to what occurred and an admonition about what is sure to occur again. The question it leaves unanswered — are we willing to do anything to prevent or mitigate that occurrence? 

I fear the coming of Spring 

when our bears come out of hibernation

bringing with them wildness and

hunger to survive and feed their newborns 

sure to collide with human cohabitants 

seeking what the bears bear —

an unavoidable collision of two 

territorial species wanting  

each what the other has both 

dependent on the State to mediate

the conflicts sure to ensue, with

the State doing what it instinctually

does – kill bears for being bears,

sixteen last year, four in my home town

alone, as the wildness and the food it bears



I am filled with deep foreboding.

I fear that we lack the resolve

to tell the State “no more killing bears 

you are killing us and our wildness.”


I trust my fears are misplaced, are those

of a too-cynical old man.

Photo at top: Bear cubs, by Emily Carroll of Pennsylvania Game Commission

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Jack Carney is a clinical social worker who retired after fifty years of practice, nearly forty of which spent working in the public mental health system. He received his MSW from UCLA in 1969 and his DSW from CUNY in 1991. He is also a trained family therapist, trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and has devoted a good part of his professional life to teaching and training mental health professionals, to developing and implementing innovative treatment approaches and programs, and to conducting clinical practice research. He retired in 2010 from a large New York social welfare agency. He now lives with his wife and their two cats in the Adirondacks of northern NY State, where he spends much of his time writing provocative tracts and working as a community and healthcare advocate, heavily involved in the Campaign for NY Health and the enactment of single payer healthcare on a statewide – the NY Health Act – and national – Medicare for All – basis. He is the author of a book of essays – Nation of Killers: Guns, Violence, White Supremacy – The American Dream Become Delusion, published in 2015 and available via Amazon. He has also published over 40 blog posts on Mad In America and Op-Ed News, all concerned with the political deterioration of the American state and its institutions and the measures that ordinary Americans can take to oppose an oppressive corporatist ruling class that is squeezing the life and vibrancy out of us. A nearly complete listing of all his writings – a work in progress – can be found on his website, www.paddling

8 Responses

  1. Kate Cronn says:

    We create the problem by leaving trash, bird feeders and pet food outside inviting these clashes. Bears go for the easiest food. We have only ourselves to blame.

  2. Jack Carney says:

    Agreed, Kate. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Phillip says:

    How true!
    Hey has anybody seen, or heard from Jeep lately???

  4. Long Lake says:

    Research has proven bears and coyotes become aggressive towards humans when food is associated with humans. Here’s a suggestion: POST SIGNAGE; LOCK AND SECURE ALL TRASH AND FOOD on the front of publicly used BEAR PROOF garbage bins and in post offices, restaurants, stores, gas stations etc. New York State voters should make these two suggestions a law in all towns within the Park. We should not have to beg and plead with town’s and village’s elected officials or the DEC to do what is ethically right for wildlife forced to live and suffer by capitalist’s rules. Get the chamber of commerce for the Adirondacks involved. The slogan “A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear” is not working! I’m sure bear proof trash bins and educational signage will not scare away the tourists!

    • Jack Carney says:

      Good first steps. How about periodic educational programs aimed at local residents, town officials and tourists promoting the various steps that can be tsken to ensure peaceful human/ bear co-habitation and obviate the need to kill bears.

  5. Katherine Cronn says:

    DEC should demand bear proof trash containers be out in the local towns. If a private person created this type of nuisance DEC would fine them.

  6. Caleb Davis says:

    I live in the town where four bears were killed last year. The town provides open ended garbage cans in public food areas. At night, the bears feed from the cans at the town public beach and also pavilion. Bears that get free and easy food develop a habit, so do the cubs. Bears that cause problems to humans are identified as ” nuisance bears” and may be trapped and transported away by the DEC. Several problems with this are that no one wants someone else’s nuisance bear delivered to their home area and there is significant cost and insufficient DEC personnel to do the job. Next easiest solution is to have DEC kill the bear. Issue over. I talked to a DEC ranger who said it was the toughest and saddest part of his job. I shudder when I think about what we required him to do. Also bad day for the bear.

    Concern was voiced by several residents who did an informal survey where 132 of 136 people supported a request to the Town to put bear proof garbage cans in public food areas. This was presented at the fall budget meetng as well as information that significant donors were willing and available. No action was taken, issue dropped.

    It is my understanding, from an article written from the town office back in 2013, that in New York State it is illegal to intentionally feed bears. Perhaps we could reconsider a better solution to our town bear problem that would also serve as an example to our residents and visitors.

    • Jack Carney says:

      Great use of the poem, Caleb. Amplified vey thoroughly LL residents’ concerns and how we might begin to address them. Biggest barrier up ’til now, our town board, whose members appear indifferent to town residents’ perspective. I could be wrong, so we’ll ask the Town Board again.
      Thank you, Caleb.

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