Teddy Bear Picnic at Lathrop
By Barbara Walvoord
Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for March 30-April 6, 2018.
Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state in the nation for people, and it’s becoming more and more densely populated with bears. So the state has a website about them. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-black-bears
Our Lathrop bear population has undoubtedly grown over the winter, as pregnant sows have each birthed 2-3 cubs. Out of the den by now, they’re all hungry, because the kids are growing and mom hasn’t eaten all winter.
Their first question is, “Where’s the picnic?”
Their natural spring picnic is green shoots, insects, tubers, eggs, dead animals, and occasionally fawns whose moms have left them lying motionless in the grass.
One warm spring morning when Sharon and I lived in the Berkshires, I was preparing eggs, fried potatoes (a tuber), and sausage (dead animal). I had the door open to our patio. I looked out, and there was a bear, right on the patio. Who can blame her? All her favorite spring picnic foods. I yelled “Hey!” and banged the door shut, and she disappeared in a flash. The first instinct of black bears, when something unusual happens, is to leave.
You may unwittingly contribute to a bear picnic if you leave bird or animal food outdoors or in your garage with the garage door open. Keep your trash in a closed container and put it out the morning of the delivery, not the night before.
If you meet a bear in the woods, it may at first not recognize you as human, and may walk toward you, just curious. Yell, to help it recognize you as human, and slowly back away. It’s not interested in attacking you, unless you attack it first or make it feel its cubs are in danger. Keep your dog leashed. Do not get between a bear and her cubs. All 750,000 North American bears kill on average only 1 person per year. You’re a lot safer with a bear than with other humans, where 1 in 16,000 commits murder each year. https://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/bears-a-humans/119-how-dangerous-are-black-bears.html