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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, May 4, 2015

From a 100 Black Bear population to as many as 4500 today, the "Bay State", Massachusetts, is marching back to how their woodlands looked prior to the 19th century--BEAR COUNTRY! ----With the western half of the state now Black bear saturated, wandering males(and some females) are pushing the breeding population farther and farther east, now breeding in Worcester and Middlesex counties with lone bruins being seen all the way to the ocean, on Cape Cod

  • Bears spreading 

  • toward eastern

  • Massachusetts 

  • as population grows

WESTBOROUGH — Before he settled down in suburban Massachusetts, Daniel du Toit never expected to come face-to-face with a black bear, but his assumptions changed dramatically after an incident that unfolded four years ago in his backyard.
Du Toit was preparing to walk his dog one morning in June 2011 when he looked out the door and spotted a large animal on the ground. He suspected it was an enormous dog, but soon realized a black bear was marauding across his property, feasting on the bounty contained in bird feeders staked into the yard.
"The bear was just ransacking it, so we called the police,” he said.
The encounter ended harmlessly – the bear eventually scuttled away into the woods – but for du Toit, a native of South Africa who lived in Virginia before relocating to Westborough, it was an eye-opening lesson about the spread of black bears throughout Massachusetts.
"That was very unexpected,” he said. “It's the first time in my life that I saw a real bear."
With the bear population continuing to rebound, state wildlife officials say encounters with the animals are becoming increasingly common in communities where they had all but vanished only a few decades earlier.
Black bears are now living in areas as far east as Interstate 495, including Marlborough, Westborough, Northborough and Southborough, said Laura Conlee, bear biologist for the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The animals are known to breed in Worcester County and northern Middlesex County, and wandering males have been spotted in places as far away as Brookline and Cape Cod.
“Massachusetts is bear country,” Conlee said.
With bears beginning to emerge once again this spring, state wildlife officials launched a campaign last month to educate the public about how to avoid luring them into neighborhoods. Conlee appears in a new video released by MassWildlife earlier this year that encourages people to avoid providing bears with easily accessible food supplies, such as bird feeders and unsecured garbage bins.
Bears have good memories, and they tend to spend more time in neighborhoods where they have found food in the past, Conlee said. They can also become acclimated to humans and pass on behavior to their cubs.
“There’s just a lot of food sources that bears can get into in these residential areas,” she said.
Like many other species native to Massachusetts, black bears were all but wiped out after Europeans colonized the state, transforming forest habitats into farmland. As a result, there were as few as 100 bears in Massachusetts in the 1970s, but the population has increased sharply; experts estimate there are as many as 4,500 bears in the state today.
Male and female cubs live with their mothers for about 16 months after being born. Females then travel in a range that overlaps a portion of their mother’s territory. Breeding female bears have thus far moved as far east as Interstate 190, near Shirley, Conlee said.
Males have traveled farther east because they usually disperse greater distances after leaving the den – often 60 to 100 miles away – searching for a less densely populated area.
In Westborough, bears are turning up more frequently in the west end, but the animals have yet to become a major concern, said Police Chief Alan Gordon.
"We're sure they're around,” he said. “We get complaints – people's bird feeders get ripped down, and poles bent."
In Marlborough, one of the only recent bear sightings reported to the police department came from the Cedar Hill area sometime last year, said animal control officer Peter Nikitas.
"He was just crossing the yards and that was it,” Nikitas said, adding, "He was real quick and calm, peaceful, didn't really bother anybody."
While there has never been a reported bear attack in Massachusetts, Conlee said people should bang pots and pans or make other loud noises if they see a bear in their neighborhood to discourage it from coming back.
“There’s always a possibility (of an attack) with any type of wildlife … but with bears, it’s a very, very rare occurrence,” Conlee said. “The big thing is though that we want to keep our bears wild, so we don’t want them being comfortable in residential areas.”

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