Nuisance bears in suburban areas can be problematic, especially when the bears first emerge from hibernation in the spring. The nuisance bear will tear down bird feeders, get into garbage cans, and can even damage property. The Pennsylvania Game Commission suggest first removing the food source so the bear will vacate the area. If removing the food source does not cause the bear to vacate the area, as a last resort the Game Commission will trap and relocate the bear.
My parents live in a rural area, so occasional bear interactions are normal. However, this spring one bear discovered an easy meal in their yard. Dad puts bird feeders in the yard, so my mother can watch the birds. Shortly after the feeders were out, a bear visited each night damaging the feeders and poles. The decision was made to bring the feeders into the garage at night to discourage the bear. The bear then damaged my parents’ garage door trying to get to the food source. Fear of more damage and the bear getting inside the garage, we decided to call the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The Game Warden set a trap and baited it with donuts and a black sunflower seed molasses mixture. The trap sat for three days before the bear was caught. Once the bear was in the trap, we called the Warden and he brought the bear to Grice Gun Shop. They felt it was a great opportunity to educate the public on what happens during this process. I had the pleasure of helping with some of the procedures. The Warden began by tranquilizing the bear. Once immobile, we put gloves on to protect the bear from oils on our skin. It was taken out of the trap and a saline solution was used on its eyes to keep them from drying during the process and he covered the eyes with a cloth to keep the bear calm. We took his weight with a measure tape and pulled a tooth to determine his age. He weighed in at 220 lbs and his tooth was sent to a lab for processing. Next, we put a tag in both ears in case one would fall out. I was thrilled to help tag the ears! The bears are not harmed in any way during this process. A Game Wardens’ job is to protect and manage the wildlife in the state. The bear was then released in a rural location with hopes he avoids further human encounters.
All these research techniques help to better understand bear population and how to conserve resources and reduce nuisance interaction with humans. When hunters buy bear tags, the money is used for the research of the species in our state to continue to provide the best environment for the black bears and keep the population at a manageable size.
We as hunters help in the conservation of black bears with the checks and balances of hunting. I have hunted bears in the past, but to encounter a live bear this close, get to place a tag in its ear, knowing I was part of this research, was a once in a lifetime conservation experience I will never forget!