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The Small Black Bear

2012 November 6

By Amy Miller

I was all set to write about a red-tailed hawk that’s made itself at home in our yard. And then.

And then a black bear ran right in front of my bookbag-carrying kids on their way home from school. It scurried across Paul Street just 100 feet from women working out at Curves, over the lawn of Seacoast Christian Academy, through a Berwick Academy soccer practice and up a tree at the posh private school.

When my 10-year-old son realized he had just seen a black bear, he dropped to the ground in delight.

“I’ve always wanted to see an eagle, a moose and a bear, and now I’ve seen everything except a moose,” said Benjamin, who is checking off his bucket list much younger than most of us.

My neighbor was far less thrilled. “Oh no, now I can’t let my kids outside to play.”

All ‘round town, people were celebrating, panicking or empathizing with the puppy-sized cub as it scuttled about the village.

Meanwhile, Adam Gormely, lieutenant with the Maine warden service at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, was mainly trying to explain his decision not to send in troops.

Black bears, he said, rarely attack.  He pointed out there are 25,000 bear in Maine – all of them black bear – and he cannot remember one attack on a person.

To those who were particularly worried because this was a baby and the mother might be lurking close behind, Gormely argued that a mother black bear, like deer and many other animals, will let her cub be taken rather than risk her own life. Unlike grizzlies, female black bears do not display the level of protectiveness that leads to an attack on humans.

Although newspapers were reporting and the public was ruing that the game wardens didn’t bother to do anything, Gromley explains that inaction was a well-thought out decision.

“The number one thing we can do to prevent damage is to leave the bear alone,” Gormely said, noting the state will not tranquilize animals during hunting season since the meat from this animal, if caught, will have poison in it for up to 30 days.

“The safest option for a bear cub, for wildlife professionals and even for the public,” Gormely said, “is to leave the animal alone and allow it to return to the wild.”

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. Dan Whittet permalink
    November 6, 2012

    Lieutenant Gormely is correct, if we want to live in rural areas and appreciate the value of wildlife we have to give them some respect. One of the greatest problems for bears across the United States is the easy access to garbage at rural developments, landfills and campgrounds. We still carry primal fears of larger animals like Wolves, Coyotes, Bears and the occasional Fox, but we think nothing of hitting the interstate at 85 MPH with one hand on a cell phone. Statistically I think our chances of getting hurt by a wild animal are pretty minimal.
    You should take your son up to Baxter State park to see some Moose, they are hard to miss there. The enormous “park” is a fine example of a political legacy that has really endured

  2. TB at permalink
    November 6, 2012

    That’s AWESOME! I wish we saw wildlife like that. It makes sense that they decided to do nothing. Let the bear alone and use common sense by not approaching them, right? Isn’t that the rule? I’ve heard moose are pretty darn big, good luck to your son on that spotting!

  3. Joy permalink
    November 8, 2012

    I’d agree – if we want to live in wilderness, we have to live with wildlife! That being said – am I remembering wrong, or wasn’t a baby taken out of a stroller and killed by a black bear in New York State, right near the NJ line, a few years ago? As I recall, the mother had left the baby outside in the front yard while she ducked inside to get something. I sure hope I am remembering wrong!

    And yes, Amy, this is Joy whom you knew in elementary school! ;-)

  4. Gossip Bearer permalink
    November 9, 2012

    great post…i love to see real bear…i find it exciting..!

  5. Anonymous permalink
    November 15, 2012

    Benjamin has definitely been very lucky because today people do not see with eyes of beauty to a copy of that these already barely are visible, are hunted to extinction. I think it’s a privilege because I have not seen even half of them. We have to understand who came before and we must give them the respect and space. Adam Gormely reasonably thinks and knows that these animals rather than be hunted we have to save and take care.

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