Local bear population will continue to grow

Several weeks ago, this column was dedicated to some advice about learning to live and avoid problems with black bears, which are steadily increasing in our area. Last week, the Department of Environmental Conservation held a public seminar and meeting at the Plymouth Fire Department on that very subject. I was sad to note only about a dozen people attended. Yet I'd be willing to bet a full bird feeder that over the next couple of years there'll be a lot more than that who'd wished they'd attended.

Why do I say that? Because we've already experienced dozens of bear-related incidents in the area over the past couple of years, and it will only get worse if residents don't take steps to avoid bear-people conflicts. As I told Dave Rielhman, the DEC Region 7 Sr. Wildlife Biologist who gave the presentation, "Hold this again in a few years, and I'll bet the room will be packed."

In many ways, the influx of bears into our region parallels the return of deer to the area. By the early 20th Century deer were extirpated from our region, and just seeing a deer track in the 1920s was major news. Hunters in search of a New York deer had to travel to the Adirondacks. But as agricultural and forestry methods changed our area's habitat, the deer gradually returned and kept expanding their population. By the 1960s, not seeing a deer while afield in our area was unusual.

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