They Aren’t Cuddly

Last summer my neighbor had an unexpected noontime vistor. A smallish, probably 250-lb, black bear decided his birdfeeder was just what the doctor ordered. As my neighbor watched the bear proceded to split open the feeder and devour the contents before ambling away. Two things are notable here. First, this foray was made in broad daylight. Second, the bear was not afraid to wander amidst human dwellings.

Like deer, black bears are becoming a nuisance in Western Maryland. Like deer they are losing their inherent fear of humans because of their constant presence and they are discovering that grazing on ornamental shrubs and robbing trash cans is a much easier life than working for a living. Unlike deer, they are predators.

If you live in an area that has bear and you have young children, the thought of a 300+-lb carnivore that can run in excess of 30 mph and has no fear of you is unsettling.

To Governor O’Malley’s credit he has not caved in to the rather shrill voices of those opposing the rather limited bear hunt in Garrett County. We got along quite well without them for a hundred or so years and we can get along without them in the future.

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The rather addlepated anthropromorphizing of deer into Bambi and a black bear into Balu is nonsense. The overpopulation of deer in Maryland does more than wreck lawns and gardens. They cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in damage each year through their collisions with motor vehicles and the accidents they contribute to.

For now we are safe. The bear have been making a slow comeback in Western Maryland. They don’t breed as prolifically as deer. And we’ve had a reasonable policy of hunting them to keep their numbers under control. The day we stop hunting them then all bets are off.

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