In an attempt to establish appropriate population levels for black bears throughout New York state, environmental officials are conducting a bear survey, reports the Press-Republican.
Questionnaires are being sent this fall to about 11,000 randomly selected landowners across the state in both rural and urban areas in an effort to get a better handle on the public perception of the black bear population.
The questionnaire asks about positive and negative experiences people have had with the bears, their perception of population trends, and views on the potential benefits of and disadvantages to living among the animals. The potential impact of wildlife on people is a key part of decision-making in wildlife management.
The Center for Conservation Social Sciences at Cornell University is a partner in the survey.
Black bears interacted with humans in the Adirondacks in record numbers this past summer. As of the fourth week in August, the State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 had received 330 reports of incidents.
Bears were stealing backpacks with food in them and otherwise interrupting hikers and campers. Officials blamed the high activity in part on the dry summer, which didn’t allow adequate growth of berries and other food bruins eat. It also pointed to the lack of precautions by people, officials said – for example, failing to keep food in bear-resistant canisters.
At least one bear, that had been relocated in the past after repeated interaction with people, had to be shot and killed by DEC. That decision was made for the sake of public safety, DEC said after the incident, when hours of effort – even use of rubber projectiles – failed to scare it away from Saranac Islands State Campground.