This Week's Podcast: A Rebroadcast: A Year in the Life of the Black Bear
Click on the small black arrow on the bar to listen, or the MP3 to download the show:
On this weeks show, Patrick C. Carr, Supervising Wildlife Biologist for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, walks us through a year in the life of the largest land mammal in the state. Black bear can now be found pretty much in all the states along the Eastern seaboard and into Canada.
I asked how the current regional black bear population compares to 200 years ago. I should have known that the question would better have been 500 years ago. Two centuries back, the bear, like deer, were nearly wiped out as land was cleared for farming and there were no limits on hunting. In fact, since 1980, the bear population has been steadily increasing. (Below: a young black bear visits my garden.)
Bears are omnivorous and opportunistic. Which would you rather do? Spend 20 hours a day picking berries for your average daily 20,000 calories, or pick through a restaurant’s dumpster. Sorry for that thought. But as cleared land reverted to forest, suburban landscapes spread and with some farming still going on, bear are doing quite well -- so well, that the state has classified bear a “game animal” and allowed for a hunting season. Each year, there is a cry to stop the hunt, and with some success. Some nearby states have had uninterrupted bear hunting season. New Jersey has had a few, including a six-day hunt in 2011 when 469 animals were taken.
I have to say that without the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the health and safety of the bear population, natural habitat and all animals would be much worse off. Much of the money spent on licenses goes to habitat protection. After all, no control and support of animals and habitat means no hunting or fishing.
Tune into our fascinating conversation on the year in the life of a black bear, and visit this and related websites: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts.htm.