June 14, 2012 | Volume 42, No.24

Show tolerance for teen-age bears

Three summers ago, 10 cubs were born to bears that frequent the Chilkoot River.  This year, they have all “graduated” and are on their own. They are “teenage” bears – lots of energy, little life experience, looking for where they fit into the bear world. As a community we can prevent most conflict by our behavior. We can make sure they don’t learn that people have food by securing our trash and fish waste. We can minimize attractants so they will not be interested in coming into our yards and outbuildings. We can use electric fences, “critter gitters” or other deterrents to keep them away from our homes, livestock and gardens. The Chilkoot Bear Foundation bought fences and “critter gitters” for Fish and Game to loan out to local residents. Our bears bring tourist dollars into Haines, so they have economic value. They also have value to us to be able to view, hunt and photograph. They often get shot just because they are assumed to be a threat, even if they are not threatening anything. We can live with them if we decide to be a bit more tolerant of bears around our homes and a little more careful with securing attractants that bring “teenagers” calling. They are an important part of our ecosystem and our economy. “Keep bears wild and people safe.”

Pam Randles