Welcome to Bethel’s black bear buffet

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Somebody tell Yogi and Booboo to grab their pic-a-nic baskets and head to Bethel. Some townsfolk there want to make a permanent path for the ursine kind, allowing them to feast on the finest pickings from the transfer station.

And there’s nothing Ranger Smith can do about it.

Why? Wetland mitigation. A subdivision plan in Bethel aims to fill about 25,000 square feet of wetland, so to comply with the Natural Resources Protection Act, its developers are offering to preserve a “bear corridor” that passes by a premium food source for the omnivorous mega-mammals: overflowing Dumpsters of yummy trash.

Which would be fine, if Western Maine bears had the same fun-loving personalities as the furry denizens of Jellystone Park. Or, if bears refused refuse as repast, and didn’t cause Bethel headaches for repeated dump raids.

But they are not.

And they are.

“It’s one way to set aside land that will never be developed again,” says a project consultant, Bob Berry of Livermore, about the bear-corridor preservation. We hope, for this project’s sake, more ways exist, as this one seems likely to create more problems than it would solve.

For humans, at least. Definitely not the bears. This is absolutely thrilling for them.

Bethel needs fewer bears rooting through its garbage piles, not the creation of a permanent bear buffet line running alongside the transfer station. While we understand the intended use of the corridor is to provide access to water, it’s the route – not the destination – that’s the trouble.

Bear conditions are so bad, according to officials, the town wishes to put its garbage in sealed containers to deter scavenging bruins. Or “nuisance bears” as they’re known in communities across this country and others, the title for meandering bears that seem to like the human world a little bit too much.

And why wouldn’t they? Look what may be made ready for them in Bethel: the forested equivalent of a fast-food restaurant, with free refills to boot. It would be enough to make Yogi Bear leave Jellystone Park for good.

Which means developers should act smarter than the average bear when it comes to this plan.

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