Black bear issues are complicated. In some areas they appear to almost too numerous, particularly in locations where humans create attractive nuisances such as garbage cans without locking mechanisms in bear country. Although bears pay the ultimate price in these situations, this is more of a “human management” problem than a bear problem because these situations are avoidable.
Cascadia Wildlands has a long history of fight for black bear habitat. This is particularly true in places like the Tongass National Forest where clearcutting threaten habitat for these bears as well as wolves, salmon and Sitka deer. These are often the easiest actions for us to undertake.
Tougher to observe and monitor are those black bear management actions or inactions that tend to drive populations down overall or locally. Our concerns are several, but most involve harmful human take of bears through inattention, accidentally or illegally. Agency inattention to changes in age class structure or local bear densities when setting hunting limits or issuing depredation permits on private lands to protect timber operations, wineries, or orchards can lead to local impacts to bear populations.
Likewise when road use is high or bear travel corridors are not maintained or created population sinks can occur when bears are killed by cars or blocked from certain habitats. The collisions with bears is also a human safety issue.
And lastly Cascadia Wildlands is also concerned about bear poaching. We strongly believe that poaching would tend to be higher when the general public is less aware of the ecological value of bears and where agencies do not make attempts to educate hunters that are often inundated with anti-predator rhetoric from trophy hunting groups.
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