Our Opinion: Make it easy to live with bears


Here in the rural Berkshires we pride ourselves on being able to live with wildlife, including bears. The response to a bear's appearance in the Boston or Albany areas may be to chase the bear up a tree and then shoot it out of the tree while people take pictures, but here we know better. Let's prove that again this fall when bears start showing up in wooded neighborhoods looking for snacks.

We have no grizzly or polar bears to worry about (with the melting of the Arctic that may change some day in the case of the latter), just the common black bear. They are large and intimidating but are for the most part vegetarians and have a natural fear of people (as they should). Residents of a certain age know from Yogi Bear cartoons that bears are scavengers and will keep returning to a spot where they have found food, and not just "pic-i-nic" baskets. They enjoy pet food, bird seed and a variety of trash, and removing bird feeders and keeping garbage secure are sound ways to discourage bear visits.

A bear's space should be respected, and bears have earned that respect and that space. As Pittsfield Animal Control Officer Joseph Chague said in Tuesday's Eagle, "They lived in Berkshire County long before we did." The black bears were here when the Berkshires were a wilderness, and it is people who invaded their turf, not the other way around. Happily, we can share that turf. The bears want no part of us, only our leftovers, and by giving bears no incentive to invade backyards they will move on -- without showing up on someone's cellphone footage falling hard from a tree. Respect the bears this fall.


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