Should we be concerned about the growing black bear population?

By Alex Solari, Staff Writer

Recently, the people of our country have been particularly worried about the future of our planet, especially with our current political situation.

The temperature of our planet is rapidly increasing and the endangerment of many animal species has gotten progressively worse.

However, here in Massachusetts, we are helping the planet just a little bit with our black bear population consistently growing. In 2011, the population of black bears in Massachusetts was close to 4500, but now it is almost at 5000.

Altogether, there are over 300,000 black bears in the United States, which is quite a difference from about 25 years ago. According to IUCN Red List, in 1992, black bears were listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1992. At the time, there was fragmentation of the bear’s habitat, as well as human-caused deaths.

Thankfully, this species is no longer a big concern for the IUCN Red List, and according to their site, “The global population [of black bears] is estimated at more than twice that of all other species of bears combined.”

Though this increase in black bears in Massachusetts, as well as in the entire United States is great for our ecosystem, these bears are currently migrating east, which means we could see a sharp influx of bears in our area at any time.

Black bears, on average, cause less than 3 fatalities in the United States a year, so though they are dangerous creatures, it isn’t a likely event that they would attack a human.

In fact, a human is more likely to be killed by a dog with 26 fatalities a year, or killed by lightning, with 90 fatalities a year according to Backpacker. However, according to Telegram, virtually all black bear issues arise over food.

Therefore, from now on, and especially during the summer, we should be mindful of the food we leave outside, such as trash, bird feeders, etc.

As Telegram says, “Bears will become bolder and bolder as long as these food sources are available. In Western Mass., bears are found rummaging through dump containers for food, and some even attempt to break into houses in search of food.”

Some may hear this news and become frustrated, saying things like “Why won’t they just shoot these black bears already?” or “Now I have to bring my bird feeders in? What a nuisance!”

Though I can agree that this increase in black bears may be inconvenient for some, it’s simply self-centered and arrogant to think that us, as humans, deserve to live on this land any more than the other animals that inhabit it.

Humans have created so many problems on earth, including the extinction of countless animals, with recent losses like the Tasmanian tiger and the West African Black rhinoceros.

According to Huffington Post, the planet loses dozens of species a day, and almost 20,000 species of plants and animals are currently at high risk for extinction.

Most of these extinctions are because of us humans, which is why we should be changing our actions against animals such as the black bear to try to reverse the damage done.

If we continue destructive behavior like hunting excessively and ruining inhibited land, we will completely destroy our ecosystem.

We should invite these black bears into our state, and although their presence may be less than desirable, it is important that we allow them to live in our woods.

Although it’s unlikely to happen, if these bears did become violent or invasive, then of course Massachusetts should take steps to control the black bear population.

But until then, keep your food out of sight of these bears, and if you spot one, make sure to Snapchat it for your friends!

Photo Courtesy: Outer Banks Sentinel


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