There’s a black bear that has become quite a nuisance in the Bethel area. I arrived at my camp on Bailey Road around mid-May. Within hours I cleaned and put out my bird feeders. In only a handful more hours, all feeders were destroyed and cleaned of seeds and sweet nectar from the hummingbird feeder. I should have known.

Since that event, I made sure I took the feeders in at night until I remembered a hungry bear doesn’t necessarily eat according to daylight or darkness. Even with the feeder put in for the night, evidence showed me the bear was still visiting at some point during the night looking for something to eat. I’ve now resorted to not having any feeders out at all.

My next-door neighbor sent me an email the other day with a photo he had taken of this fat ole bear, sitting on his hind end in the middle of his mother’s flower garden, tipping the bird feeder sideways and emptying the contents into its mouth.

Before I saw the photo, I figured the bear was not a small bear. One of the feeders was hung in the air high enough that I needed a 4-foot pole with a hook to get the feeder up and down. When I saw the remnants of the feeder on the ground the next morning, I thought probably the bear must have climbed the tree and ripped down the wire from which the feeder hung. There was no sign of that, only that the wire hook through the feeder was straightened. Somehow, that bear reached at least 7 feet up and was able to knock the feeder to the ground.

I have since heard that another neighbor, further up Bailey Road, had a bear, presumably the same one, take a swipe at his dog.

Reports have also been coming in of a bear spotted crossing Vernon St. near the village. As the crow flies, it is less than a mile from Vernon St. to Bailey Road and this could be the same bear…or not.

Maine has a very large bear population. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has been making mumbles for several years about the need to do something about reducing the population as a means of mitigating nuisance bear problems – like the one people are being subjected to in the Bailey Road area of Bethel.

While it appears to me that any decision concerning the management of bears and reducing the population is driven by politics and special interest groups, any serious attempts to address the problem were, once again, put off by the Legislature.

When bears, and many other wildlife species, take up reliance on finding food from humans within their settled landscapes, unfortunately those animals often end up dead.

It’s not only too large of a population of bears that drives human/bear encounters. Any wild animal that has abundant natural food is a species that is seldom seen by residents. Because we can’t control the natural food source, animals like bears, when they wake up from a long winter’s nap, are hungry as, you guessed, a bear, and will go after the closest and easiest source of food. Bird feeders, or your favorite livestock and pets, are no exceptions.

I’m not all that much different from many people who like to feed birds so that I can watch them. I do not attempt to feed other wildlife, as I’m not interested in signing their death warrants.

Until such time as the authorities can sort out the politics of wildlife management, on behalf of bears and other assorted fauna, you might want to check your unintentional feeding programs until natural food is set upon the table.

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