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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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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Massachusetts like virtually all of the New England states along with NY, NJ and Pennsylvania have a very healthy population of Black Bears..............The bruins in the Bay State have been gradually migrating east toward the Atlantic Ocean out of their western Mass core area.............4500 or so Black Bears are calling Massachusetts home as we enter 2017 and the vanguard of their eastern migration is now the area between Interstate 190 and Interstate 495 ..............

Mass. bear population growing, moving east

Posted Jan 29, 2017

WESTBORO - A record black bear harvest was reported in 2016 as a healthy bear population steadily moves east into suburban areas, where natural food sources are fewer and sightings to date have been rare, according to state officials.

Dave Wattles, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's Black Bear Project leader and furbearer biologist, is reviewing research garnered from annual den surveys and the activity of bears wearing telemetry collars to write a comprehensive black bear management plan.
Mr. Wattles said the record black bear harvest, which is the number of bears killed during hunting season, was 283. The bears, he said, were checked in by wildlife biologists during three fall hunting seasons spanning a period of a little more than six weeks.
The previous record of 240 bears was set in 2014.
Last fall more than half the bears were taken in September; 47 were shot during shotgun season for deer, which he said accounted for the record number.
The biologist said the sharp September harvest increase, from 130 in 2015 to 190 in 2016, could be associated with the drought.

The Green shaded regions below in the eastern
sections of Massachusetts will likely see the return
of the Black Bear over the next decade

Mr. Wattles said he has yet to fully tabulate the 2016 results by location; however, he figures the harvest numbers will be higher in those areas near large cornfields, a typical behavior when natural food sources are not available.
Of the 283, 30 were taken east of the Connecticut River, the balance in the western counties, he said.
Mr. Wattles said the agency has not yet settled on a number for an optimum black bear population statewide.
Writing a comprehensive black bear management plan will be one of my priorities moving forward, but it hasn't been started yet. We're still working through some of our black bear research," he said.
Much of that research is based on the annual midwinter den surveys and the monitoring of bears wearing a collar that transmits data.

Mr. Wattles said in 2011 the black bear population was estimated at 4,500. It is now closer to 5,000, he said.
The biologist said current range of the population includes all of the Berkshires and Connecticut River Valley and much of Central Massachusetts.
He said the area between Interstate 190 and Interstate 495 is the leading edge of the black bear's move eastward.
"There have been sightings of sows and cubs east of (Interstate) 190, so we expect the population numbers to continue to rise in this area, as the population continues to push east." There have been infrequent sightings in the southeastern part of the state, and relatively few in the northeast, Mr. Wattles said.
Commenting on anecdotal reports of black bears coming out of hibernation and leaving dens in the north Quabbin area, Mr. Wattles said that will always be the case when there are mild winters.

As an aside, he said, "Essentially there is no safe time of year to have backyard bird feeders out in Massachusetts."
"We've observed some of our collared animals in the past, particularly in areas like Northampton where there's a high concentration of human-associated foods, remain semi-active throughout the winter," the biologist said.

He added, "They are certainly more sedentary in the winter, but many choose not to den up in the fall."
The exception, Mr. Wattles said, is with the pregnant sows.
"They will den like clockwork, and once they are in the den, they will not leave."

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