At Adirondack Wildlife, we are receiving one or two calls a day about reportedly orphaned bear cubs, and since we have experience with both wild and captive-bred bears, and since bear activity is very seasonal in nature, here is what we believe is happening. Black bear hibernation is not about the cooler temperatures of winter, but rather the availability of food.
While we humans tend to want to be slim and attractive, bears want to be as fat as possible to help them survive the winter months. Bears grow very thick coats to neutralize the cold, and they spend most of the Fall taking on as many calories as they can, building up their weight, and slowly metabolizing the excess weight over the winter months.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here.
It’s not too early for New York homeowners to think about bear-proofing their properties. While most of our bears are still in their dens, some may be out searching for food. These bears will seek easy meals from bird feeders or unsecured garbage.
In most years, we see bears leaving their dens beginning around mid-March. Folks who feed birds in bear country should begin emptying feeders and cleaning up dropped seed before then, or anytime you observe bear signs. It’s also a good time to make sure garbage cans are secured and stored in a sturdy building.
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