PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

November 7, 2012

Chester Moore column: Education important for black bear return

PORT ARTHUR —  

    The eyes always tell the story.

    Having encountered thousands of animals over the years, my attention is always drawn to the eyes of creatures because they reveal so much about intelligence and demeanor.

     The eyes looking at me from just a couple of feet away revealed a creature with great depth of behavior and ability. In this case, it was a 350-pound black bear named Barnaby.

    Last week I filmed a bear segment at Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch near Denton with founder Scott Edwards.

    For the episode we filmed a bear encounter that allowed me a chance to interact with Barnaby and a similar-sized female named Bailey, three-year-old bears both rescued from a bad situation and trained by Edwards.

    “You can train wild animals but you cannot make them tame. There is a difference,” Edwards said.

    Sharkarosa is an amazing facility that propagates a variety of endangered species and does educational outreach through on behalf of everything from sloths to Pere' David’s deer.

    I went to get a little deeper understanding of bears since these great animals are returning to Texas in surprising numbers.

    “Black bears are one of the few large mammals in North America that wasn’t endangered at some point. They continue to thrive and in many areas even live right alongside large numbers of people,” Edwards said.

    “When people leave them alone they go stealth and are very rarely seen but when people start feeding them and treating wild bears as if they are pets then trouble starts.”

    Wildlife managers say “a fed bear is a dead bear” and the reason is bears accustomed to receiving food from people are often removed from the population as to not harm people. They become bold and have even been known to break into houses for food.

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