Young bears are coming to a business or feeder near you
TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
Alex Cormier’s bear video has been viewed over 27,000 times and shared more than 300.
When a small bear pawed at the windows of Wentz Auto Body in Lehighton on Monday, he probably didn’t realize he was about to become a local celebrity.
Thanks to a video captured by Wentz employee Alex Cormier, the bear video has been shared more than 300 times. The video shows a young bear who is seemingly unafraid of humans, visiting a business located on a busy highway.
It turns out, it’s not an uncommon sight this time of year.
According to Jeannie Carl, naturalist at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, juvenile bears often appear to be fearless. It’s because they are away from their mother for the first time, and are still developing their own habits for feeding.
“They’re kind of like college students. They don’t know what’s going on, they’re trying to figure out life,” she said.
Mother bears often kick out their young when they are about 1.5 years old. So it’s unlikely that the juvenile who visited Wentz’s had lost its mother, as some commenters speculated.
Bears typically only breed once every two years. Once the cubs reach 1.5 years, the mother makes them find their own way so she can prepare for her new cubs.
That’s why when bears get into mischief, whether it’s digging through trash or getting uncomfortably close to humans, they’re usually juveniles. Cubs stay with their mother, and older bears have established foraging habits which keep themselves away from humans.
If you live in bear country, the best way to keep them away is to eliminate food sources. The Pa. Game Commission says bird feeders should be taken down at night. During summer, there is generally enough food for birds to thrive regardless.
Putting out trash in the morning as opposed to at night can be an inconvenience, but it ensures that bears can’t get inside. Bears will often feed in the early morning or evening.
Carl also recommends splashing some ammonia in a smelly trash can in order to mask the smell of food which could attract a bear.
Actively feeding a bear is illegal. On top of that, once a bear associates a site with feeding, they will continue to return looking for food. It might be cute to feed a 100-pound juvenile — but not as much when it’s a full-grown 600-pound male.
“They have a good memory and they’re going to keep coming back long after the thrill of feeding the bear is over,” Carl said.
The Game Commission says the most problematic bears are the ones which have become unafraid of humans. Often that is caused by a human feeding them when they are an adolescent. The commission has a saying: “fed bears become dead bears.”
“We don’t need to feed these animals,” Carl said. “Nature provides enough for them.”