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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Good to hear that Massachusetts is seeing their Black Bear population growing by 8 percent annually.........Roughly 4000 strong in 2013, that is roughly double the estimated 2000 bruins that roamed the state in 2003

Living with bears in Wareham

Living with bears in Wareham

Courtesy of: Wareham Land Trust
"Treat a black bear like it's a 200-pound skunk, not something you want to approach."
That was the advice given by Jason Zimmer, wildlife biologist and district supervisor with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, during a presentation he gave Saturday at the Wareham Library.
A black bear was seen roaming through Marion and Wareham in the summer of 2011, and Zimmer said the bear population in Massachusetts is growing by 8 percent annually.
In his presentation on bears in Southeastern Massachusetts, sponsored by the Wareham Land Trust, Zimmer detailed some simple precautions when encountering black bears in residential areas.
First and foremost is to remove food sources such as trash or compost. "When bears do get here, people are going to learn quickly to get the food sources inside," he said.
Food sources include seemingly innocuous things like bird feeders. One woman in the audience said that, at a friend's house in bear country, a cub climbed onto a second-story deck to get to a bird feeder.
Zimmer said that, if you ever find yourself face to face with a black bear, you should look as big as you can, make a lot of noise, and back away slowly.
He said while attacks are rare, a last resort would be to fight the bear. An adult black bear can grow to 150-200 pounds.
Of the general issue of bears coming into residential areas, "people are concerned because it's something they don't know about," Zimmer said. "Once the message on how to live with bears is out there, they get more comfortable and can actually enjoy the fact that one of the species that was almost eradicated from Massachusetts is recovering."

Are black bears native to Massachusetts? Where are black bears found in the state now?

Black bears are native to Massachusetts and were widespread throughout the state at the time of European settlement. Bears had probably disappeared from Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties by then, although there are archaeological records from Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. The explorers Pring and Brereton reported "bears" from the Cape Cod area in the early 1600s, although it is uncertain if the references are to live animals or to bear pelts in the possession of Indians.

Bears were still common in the state through the mid-1700s, but began diminishing in the eastern counties by the time of the American Revolution. In the early 1800s, bears were common only in the mountainous northwestern regions and by 1860 they were rare or absent in most of Massachusetts. The black bear remained a marginal species in the state until well into the 1950s.

A gradual resurgence was noticed in the 1960s and MassWildlife began a bear project in 1970, followed by the onset of field studies in 1980. A coarse estimate of 80 to 100 bears in 1976 was probably low. More refined estimates, based on data from the field studies, showed the population increasing from 450 to 500 in 1984, to 700 to 750 in 1987, to 975 to 1175 in 1992. In 1998, there were an estimated 1750 to 1800 bears in Massachusetts, with the population growing at about 8% annually.

At present (2003), bears are found almost everywhere west of the Connecticut River, at a density of about 1 bear per square mile of forest and a likely population of 2000 animals. Bears are moderately common in central Massachusetts (between the Connecticut River and the eastern boundary of Worcester County) but are only occasionally found in the northeastern counties. Black bears are absent from southeastern Massachusetts.
References: Cardoza 1976, Cardoza et al. 1990, Cardoza 1997, Elowe 1984, Foster et al. 2002, Fuller 1993

In Mass., Trees (And French Fries) Bring The Black Bears Back

BOSTON — The young black bear shot and killed by the Massachusetts Environmental Police in Newton Sunday morning spent his final moments amid the thick, green leaves of a tall tree.
The bear state Environmental Police killed in Newton Sunday (Newton Police via Facebook)
It was, in a way, a fitting shroud.
The story of the Massachusetts black bear’s revival — and spread to the more populated, eastern portion of the state — has a lot to do with trees.
Laura Conlee, black bear project leader with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said a survey of city and town records dating back to the 1600s shows that settlers who cleared the forest for agriculture drove the bear population to “very, very low numbers” over the centuries.
And the Massachusetts story was not a unique one. More farmland meant less wildlife throughout the Northeast.
But as Jim Sterba, author of “Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds,” writes, 19th century New England was the locus for U.S. reforestation.
With the opening of the Erie Canal, farmers were able to drop marginal pastures and look west for cheap feed, planted on flatter land.
Over time, technological advances in machinery and fertilizer made Midwestern farming more and more efficient — and New England farming less and less viable.
After World War II, lawyers and shop owners and insurance salesmen filled the spaces once occupied by farmers. And the landscape grew leafier

Some two-thirds of the Bay State is now forested. That’s meant a return of wild turkeys and fishers, members of the weasel family. And the black bear population grew from about 100 in 1970 to 4,000 now, according to Conlee.
The resurgent wildlife in Massachusetts and down the Eastern Seaboard has come into contact with the biggest population center in the country.
“If you draw a line around the Great Eastern Forest from the Atlantic coast out to the Great Plains where the trees run out,” Sterba said in an interview with WBUR, “you’ve got two-thirds of the U.S. population.”
The eastern United States, he writes, may now have “more people liv[ing] in closer proximity to more wildlife than anywhere on Earth at any time in history.”
That proximity means plenty of dumpsters and trash cans to entice bears and deer. ”Our habitat, for lots of species of wildlife, is better than their habitat,” Sterba said.
But when it comes to young male black bears like the one shot in Newton this weekend, said Conlee of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the fast food littering the highway is not the only explanation for interspecies contact.
After about one-and-a-half years with their mothers, young males set out on their own and can travel 80 to 100 miles looking for a place to settle.
When they get older, they’ll wander an area as large as 100 square miles looking for a mate.
Combine the wanderlust with the nourishment of forest and french fries, and more bears in suburbia seem like an inevitability.

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