Young Arkansas black bears will be striking out on their own early this summer to find their place in the world.
The bears may find themselves in some sticky situations as they learn how to survive without their mother. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission usually sees an uptick in nuisance bear complaints each spring, and almost all of the culprits are young males that are looking for new territory.
“It’s part of how nature works,” said Myron Means, large carnivore program coordinator for Game and Fish. “When it’s time for a female bear to start working on a new litter of cubs, she will allow her daughters to stay in part of her territory, but she chases the young males away. It helps prevent inbreeding and promotes the expansion of the species. But it also means those young males will be on the move, looking for a new place to call home.”
That search can sometimes land bears in back yards where they find an easy meal and become a nuisance. According to Means, 90% of the calls received by Game and Fish about nuisance bears stem from the bears finding food in the form of unsecured trash cans, loose pet food and bird feeders. The problem can be solved quickly with the removal or securing of those attractants.
“That bear is looking for a new place to live, so if you take away anything that attracts it, it usually will move on fairly quickly,” he said.
The problem arises when people encourage them to stay or think they’re helping by putting out more food for the wayward bruin. Once that bear begins to lose its fear of people, it can become more aggressive or damage property seeking more food.
Means and other biologists from throughout the Southeast have worked together to help people learn more about bears and how to live in areas where bears may be present. Together, they formed a special website to deliver bear safety tips and information. Visit www.bearwise.org to learn more.