Unfortunately, habituated bears often have very short lives. They lose their fear of humans, become “nuisance bears” and often end up being killed. Do not worry about the birds that have been visiting your feeder all winter. Your bringing your feeder in will not negatively affect them, as they get the majority of their food from natural sources. Also, when birds are nesting many feed their young insects and aren’t frequent visitors to feeders. Feeding enables humans to get a close view of their winged neighbors, but it is not necessary for the birds’ welfare.
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The hours I spent with this ursine family were some of the most special hours of my life. It’s possible, and probably likely, that because they lived relatively close to human habitation, they were cognizant of the fact that I meant them no harm. Regardless, they allowed me to observe their natural behavior, and that is a priceless gift to anyone, particularly a naturalist.
Black Bears are not the monsters Goldilocks would have you believe. Offensive attacks are very rare — aggressive displays are much more an expression of their fear than anything else. Chattering of jaws, false charges and the like are just that — bravado. Even when it comes to defending their young, they are very reluctant to be aggressive — that is much more likely with Grizzly Bears, which are not found in the Northeast. If not encouraged to become a nuisance by the presence and easy access of human lures such as garbage and bird seed, Black Bears can coexist with humans with little to no conflict.
If you’ve enjoyed the photographs of this family of bears, you (or your very young friends) might enjoy my recently-released children’s book, Yodel the Yearling, in which many of these photos plus others appear .
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.