Smart bear kicks off ‘Bear Smart’ program

To the Editor:

Just prior to the opening of the “Bear Smart” program, on Tuesday night at the Sapphire Valley Resort Community Center, a very large black bear showed up to protest the theme of the meeting by walking down the ski slope to a nearby dumpster and having an evening snack. Even though it was a fascinating experience for early arrivals to see a “live” bear up close, it was a prime example of how black bears respond to available human food sources and the primary objective of  Bear Smart: Do Not Feed the Bears.

Although it provided an excellent jump start for the “Understanding Our Black Bears” presentation, it revealed the importance for across the board cooperation and support regarding denying bears access to human food sources. The actions of this bear, seen by many, indicates it is acclimated to human contact and subject to being killed or destroyed.

It is hoped that the full house of black bear enthusiasts attending this event, sponsored by Wild South and the Sapphire Valley Resort, were later moved to fully understand the importance of denying black bears all human food sources during an evening of  informative, entertaining and educational presentations.  These were all designed to develop awareness and pursue actions designed to preserve a healthy image of black bears, our iconic symbol of mountain living.

Kate Marshall, using her nationally acclaimed video along with insightful comments, provided exceptional glimpses of black bears and stories with emphasis on the importance of bears to our society. Her five point outline, showing reasons black bears are so valued by many wildlife enthusiasts, was a highlight of the evening.

In an exciting climax to a meaningful evening of discussions, Wendy Howe wowed the audience with her knowledge of black bears and everyone's role in keeping bears wild and wonderful. As a long time resident of the area, her comments were well received and further emphasized the need for major cooperative community action and support as we strive to co-exist with our black bear neighbors.

John Edwards

Director of Mountain Wildlife Days


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