Injured bear wandering North Adams in search of food


NORTH ADAMS -- He's been nicknamed "Bo," he walks with a limp, and he wanders the city alone, searching for his next meal.

He's not considered dangerous, but officials say it's best not to approach him.

Bo is an adolescent black bear, and he's been munching on garbage and bird seed in the Windsor Lake area this week, resulting in around a dozen calls to Animal Control.

The male bear, approximately 2 years old, appears indifferent to humans, according to North Adams Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt. It's unclear how it was injured, but the bear has limped into backyards and campsites in search of a good meal.

"He's really not afraid of people," Loholdt said. "He's not being aggressive, he's truly just an adolescent."

The bear -- and several others spotted in Berkshire County neighborhoods this summer -- is all-too-common evidence of a black bear population boom across the commonwealth, according to the Department of Fish and Game.

"In the western part of the state, in the 1970s, we estimated about 100 bears. Over time, that population has grown to over 4,000," said Marion Larson, information and education chief for the Department of Fish and Game.

Black bears, which are "generally wary of people," have bred into central Massachusetts stretched as far east as Worcester County, Larson said. They even breed within Northampton city limits, she said.

Loholdt and North Adams Police have scared the bear -- nicknamed "Bo" by Loholdt -- back into the woods, but he returns to populated neighborhoods between Windsor Lake and the Mohawk Trail for the bounty of trash. He appears to be traveling alone, according to Loholdt -- wandering behavior is typical in young males, Larson said.

Bo was spotted on Kemp Avenue on Tuesday night and scared away by an officer. He was spotted again on Wednesday morning on West Shaft Road.

Mass Wildlife, a division of the Department of Fish and Game, recommends that bird feeders be taken down from April through November and all trash be secured to deter bears from coming into contact with humans.

When a bear enters an urban area, it is put down only if it proves a direct threat to residents -- an unlikely occurrence, according to the Mass Wildlife website.

"You can put them to sleep if they're aggressive with people," Loholdt said. "He's not aggressive, he's just stupid."

Larson said "it's not uncommon for bears to be in residential areas," and one would only be relocated in special circumstances -- if it were trapped in a tree in a city's downtown, for example. Even with bears in backyards, people are not generally "in danger of being attacked," Larson said.

Loholdt has contacted Mass Wildlife about the injured bear and it will monitor the situation, she said.

If the bear is seen, Loholdt advised not to approach it, despite its calm demeanor.

"He looks very tiny until he stands up and he's as tall as I am," Loholdt said.

For now, Berkshire residents should get used to their four-legged neighbors.

"They are growing in number because there's enough habitat," Larson said. "We anticipate continued expansion."

To reach Adam Shanks:
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