In the state of Washington over the last two weeks three wild bears have been killed. They had learned to look for food near human dwellings because food had been left out by people. In one case, a homeowner shot and killed a female bear in his own driveway. The man had stored a five gallon bucket of molasses under his porch. Bears have excellent noses for food-finding, and the female got into the molasses. Wildlife officials captured the bear and relocated it. The man tried to clean up the molasses, but the bear found its way back to the house to look for more anyway. That’s when he shot it.
Who stores five gallons of molasses outdoors in a rural area where it’s known there are wild bears? It isn’t just human food or garbage that is the problem though. It’s also bird seed — really anything that a bear could consume. Especially in the spring season, when bears are famished and on post-hibernation prowls. Wildlife officials said that when homeowners leave food outdoors it teaches bears that food is near human dwellings. One of the wildlife officers stated, “Every single one of them — and this is true for 95 percent of bear complaints – it’s garbage, it’s bird feeders, it’s pet food. When you have a calling card of 10,000 calories of molasses, you can’t blame a bear for taking advantage of that.”
When will feeding bears, either intentionally or not, become illegal? Feeding bears results in their deaths too often. Why complain about bears in your backyard, if you leave birdseed or garbage out? The source of the problem is human behavior, not bear behavior.
Image Credit: Larry Brown