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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

7 Responses to Bears in town all over the place.

  1. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    When fires and low food cause bears to wander into human territory why does it work to just take them back to where there is no food. . the lower ranges where they found alternate food before is now someone’s property. . can’t a program of supplemental feeding be done. . the cost should be less than darting and transporting bears. After working around bears in Alaska I would have no problem if a grizzly wandered through my yard but I understand that my tolerance is unusual and they my neighbor would be terrified and perhaps shoot the bear. If humans were starving and went to bear country to forage would it work just to transport us back to town where there was no food? . NO. You either kill all the bears outright or figure out a way to share the food. I live in Washington State, too far away to help, but are there groups who would be willing to volunteer to pick up fallen fruit and transport it to where everyone wants bears to stay? It is hard to read about all these bears being taken back to where there is no food.

  2. Linda,

    It might not work. It might be a death sentence. However, the wildlife division probably knows the areas where the habitat is the best this year.

    For example, I have noticed a lot of berries in the mountains here near Pocatello, Idaho that were completely uneaten despite a good “crop.”

    A bear to two might fit, although the mountains aren’t deep the bears might wander out onto farm or the suburbs.

    Hopefully, they take these things into consideration.

  3. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Ralph they use supplemental feeding in Canada in several spots and, also I believe the Blackfoot Challenge group does a version of it for grizzly bears. . I wasn’t thinking of blackbears so much. It seems to me that one of the problems with problem bears is people who freak out when they see a bear, teaching the bear that they are pushovers and the bears can then have their way with all their stuff. . I agree that black bears can be real brats about food, much like a racoon if they can push people they will. Relative to black bears, grizzlies seem to prefer natural foods if they can get them. I know there are garbage grizzlies in the west that are created when the habitat is just not enough for them . . much like if a person were on a bread and water diet and smelled a steak on the barby . . it would make anyone act a little crazy. But I believe there is a big difference in the personalities of grizzlies and black bears. There are several things in that article about why feeding bears won’t work that are wrong if applied to grizzlies. . one of them being that they don’t like to eat together. . they actually follow each other around and test each other’s scat to see what the other bears on the block have eaten and backtrack to get some too. If there is suitable wild food available and the bears are just lazy picking an easier source, then that is different from what I have observed. From what I have observed it is stressful for bears to come into town and therefore not easier. Cub production is tied to how much food bears can find in the fall, so if you are looking at a population that needs to be reduced supplemental feeding is not correct, but if you are trying to sustain a population that is suffering from extreme and unatural conditions, such as their habitat has burned then feeding may be important, especially in fall. You know your area better than I do so I will take your word for it. I would like to get an opinion from the reasearchers at the Craighead Institute someday on occasional supplemental feeding of grizzlies.

  4. avatar sal says:

    Well, the Craighead folks would be a good place to inquire about that but I think Ralph is probably right.

    Conditions in Alaska and Canada are differnet specifically due to the population size and dispersal of humans. Here in Yellowstone country it’s not feasable simply because there are not only the residents that build their trophy homes in bear habitat, there is the transient tourist population that is at minimum 75% bear ignorant. They don’t understand that places like the town of West Yellowstone, for instance, is just a few square blocks of human constructions in a patch of clearcut forest. Guess the bears forgot to pencil that in on their feed range maps.

    People should either get hip to their surroundings or stay in towns where you have to go to the zoo to see animals. If you come to the woods, pay attention, you’ll live longer.

  5. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Sal thanks for explaining that. . . I keep thinking everyone knows everything we have learned about co-exisitence between bears and humans at places like McNeil River.

  6. avatar sal says:

    Personally, I think that the bears shouldn’t be ahrassed or harmed if the mess up some people, the people would pay more attention if their lives depended on it.

    I went out to hike yesterday and today, along the Madison River, and there were so many bear tracks that looked too fresh so I just turned around and got back in the car. Couldn’t get thirty feet from my vehicle, no matter where I went.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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