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Black Bear Aggression On The Rise!


Black Bear Aggression On The Rise!

By Todd Helms

Reports of black bears, normally passive creatures, acting aggressively toward and or attacking/killing humans have been on the rise since Covid. There have been recorded fatalities in both Arizona and California in the last year and in my backyard, reports of aggressive black bears have risen dramatically as well. 

This past Saturday a man was chased up a tree and attacked by a sow with cubs in the Sheridan, Wyoming area, while he was looking for shed antlers. Now, sows with cubs are notoriously unpredictable but this incident serves as another point on the spiking black bear aggression chart across North America. 

I’m not trying to fear monger here as black bear attacks remain quite rare. However, I am trying to draw attention to the fact that due to an increase in outdoor recreation since Covid, black bears in particular, have seemingly become more brazen around humans, even in areas where they are hunted like Wyoming. I’ve got some theories on this so here goes…

The area where this attack took place records an annaul harvest of bears each spring and some in the fall. The harvest quota (for sows) is quite low and fills quickly most years. Therefore a lot of bears never have the chance to encounter a human who is actively hunting them and lack the respect and caution they normally have around people. 

I have lived and recreated in the Sheridan area of Wyoming for almost 18 years and it has only been in the past few that a concern about black bears has become real. They’ve always been there but rarely are they seen or encountered. I honestly believe the growing human population and increased outdoor recreation across black bear range continent wide, along with overly-conservative management practices play a large role in the increase of incidents such as these. 

We should be killing more bears than we do. That statement flies in the face of modern predator management as predators such as black bears have become the sensationlized darlings of a populace largely out of touch with the realities of rural life. I will spare you my conspiracy theory surrounding a lack of predator management being the gateway to ending all hunting but think it through. 


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