A story broke this week (May 29, 2013) in Connecticut about a bear-dog-human encounter, resulting in the death of a mother black bear, orphaning her two cubs. And while the cubs were tranquilized and moved to a forested area, without their mother the two cubs are facing a huge up-hill battle in life and their chance of survival to adulthood is significantly less.
With any story like this, the facts are slim and who knows what really happened. However, as in the last news story I commented on, there was a dog involved and a bear chasing it back to its’ home and owner.
Dogs are wonderful companions and in bear country they can be very useful in helping bears steer clear of human interaction. However, when bears and dogs come into close proximity neck hair’s raise, heart’s beat, and emotion’s have every opportunity to get out of hand!
Bear-dog conflicts can be prevented. If you are a dog owner in bear country my bet is the last thing you want is a bear charging back to you following your dog! Here are a five things to keep in mind:
1. Dogs can provoke defensive behaviors in bears. Fast movement, e.g. a running dog, can trigger pursuit. This is why when traveling with a dog through bear country it is best to keep your dog leashed or to have a very well trained dog.
2. Bears can run fast! The fastest clocked human, world-record 100-meter sprinter Usain Bolt, would not be able to outrun a bear.
3. If your dog does not respond well to voice-control, it is best to leave them at home when hiking or camping.
4. If a bear is not threatened by a dog, a bears’ curiosity may still be piqued resulting in what could have been preventable conflict.
5. When a bear chases a dog, the dog often runs back to its’ owner, potentially a very dangerous situation for you and your dog and – in the story linked above – resulted in a death sentence for mother bear and potentially that of her cubs.
As human recreation and urbanization encroaches and bumps up against bear ranges, the potential for human-bear conflict is real. And while our focus here is to advocate for bears and give them a voice, we also love our K9 friends and we want the best for each. And in bear country what’s best for bears and for dogs is to minimize bear-dog encounters and prevent needless conflicts.
Giving voice to our bears, Jer