TOWER— City officials here are asking residents to stop feeding bears, even inadvertently, after a rash of incidents with hungry bears that have moved into town the past few weeks. Mayor Orlyn …
TOWER— City officials here are asking residents to stop feeding bears, even inadvertently, after a rash of incidents with hungry bears that have moved into town the past few weeks.
Mayor Orlyn Kringstad reports he’s received several phone calls from residents complaining about others in the community who they believe are actively feeding bears. In other cases, bears are taking advantage of unsecured garbage and creating a nuisance. DNR Tower Area Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch said residents and businesses can reduce or eliminate bear problems by ensuring that garbage is contained and secured. “If we can fix that issue, the bears go elsewhere,” he said. Rusch said he received a call from one Tower business that sought permission to shoot a bear that was raiding their dumpster, but Rusch said the agency doesn’t issue such permits unless the bear presents a clear public safety threat.
Rusch said the recent hard freeze that hit the area may have affected natural bear foods since a lot of early succulent growth, which bears feed on, was killed. He said he expects the freeze also caused widespread damage to the blueberry crop, since it came just as the plants were in bloom. He said bears look for alternatives when their natural foods are in short supply, and that can prompt them to come into town, where bird feeders, outdoor grills, and garbage can make tempting targets.
While residents who actively feed bears may believe their offerings are helpful to the hungry animals, such feeding can actually create more problems for bears, particularly in town, given the danger that humans pose to bears. Bear-human conflicts, after all, frequently result in the death of bears.
Black bears rarely attack humans, but they are powerful animals and could hurt a person in a close encounter, particularly if afraid or when protecting cubs.