Bear-vehicle collisions a growing problem in Vt.By DAVE GRAM
The Associated Press | July 08,2013AP FILE PHOTO
A black bear grazes in a field in Calais in 2012.MONTPELIER ó Wildlife officials say they are trying to figure out how to cope with a growing problem in the state: black bears wandering into roadways and being struck by vehicles.
Game Warden Sean Fowler, who responded to such an accident this past week on Route 2 in Marshfield, said the crashes are becoming more common. In that case, the 120-pound male bear died and the vehicle that hit it had left the scene by the time the officer arrived.
ďItís going to happen with more regularity because the bear population is higher than itís ever been,Ē Fowler said.
Mark Scott, director of wildlife for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, said Vermontís black bear population has roughly doubled since the 1980s, to more than 6,000 today.
Figures kept by the departmentís law enforcement division show collisions between bears and vehicles are on the rise. From 2005 to 2007, an average of 42 bears a year were struck and killed by vehicles. From 2010 to 2012, the average was 60 each year.
Scott and Fowler say thereís also a growing problem of bears approaching roadsides and human settlements in search of food. Items including backyard bird feeders and trash cans present a rich opportunity for hungry bears.
Bears will stay in deep woods and at higher elevations if ample food supply is in those areas, Scott said. The number of bears struck by vehicles dropped from 80 in 2010 to 43 in 2011. The latter year was unusually strong in its availability of beechnuts and various berries in the woods, he said.
Scott said Vermont is on the verge of exceeding its optimally sized bear population and is taking steps to slow both its growth and bearsí encounters with humans.
To slow growth, the state is expanding its bear-hunting season.
Vermont hunters traditionally were permitted to shoot one bear during part of the stateís 16-day season for hunting deer bucks in November. Under rules recently issued by the department, one bear will still be the limit, but the time period they may be hunted broadens ó it will run from Sept. 1 through Nov. 24.
A new law passed this year also bans the intentional feeding of bears. A key goal is keeping bears in the wild and away from peopleís homes, Scott said.
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor, Venus Genetrix; on this day in 1933, FBI agents in Memphis, Tennessee, arrest Machine Gun Kelly; Yves Rossi flies the English Channel with home-made jet-pack.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1852, Henri Giffard demonstrates the first steam-powered airship, sailing 17 miles from Paris to Trappes; on this day in 1877, Japanese imperial troops crush the Satsuma Rebellion, Saigo Takamori dies in Kagoshima.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: U.S. Rep. Peter Welch meets with Killington business owners, governor candidates debate, Gov. Shumlin discusses progress in anti-opiate campaign, Spanos trial venue moves to White River Junction.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1776, as Nathan Hale is hanged by British military authorities for spying, he utters his famous last words — or does he? In 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempts to kill President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Patrick McArdle reports and the theft of an $89,000 shotgun, police release a video of the Monday Castleton robbery, O'Gorman reports a lawsuit by a local man claiming his vehicle unlawfully seized, police leave him in cold.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Giles Corey of Salem, Mass., is pressed to death during the Salem witch trials; on this day in 1952, film comedian Charlie Chaplin, while traveling to England, is denied re-entry into the United States by U.S. attorney general.