This is going to hurt.
It hurts to write it; it hurts even worse to witness the impending bear die-off this summer, and do nothing.
Yet the best way to deal with Mammoth’s starving bears is to let nature take its amoral, cruel course. As painful as it might be, the very best thing for the bears is to let them die in their own way.
Starvation is nasty business, but it’s better than putting bullets in their brains. Certainly it is better than to keep them on the razor’s edge of life by handing them freebies, only to watch them become problem bears later.
When that happens, humans destroy the bear that has become a problem because of the very same humans who have just obliterated it.
Our bears are having a rough time this August. It is going to be even rougher for them as summer winds down. Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles says he hasn’t seen anything like this in all the years he’s been here.
Nature pulled the plug on bear habitat this year. There was no berry crop. There was no currant crop. Dandelions, a staple of a bear’s diet, were nowhere to be found.
Samples taken from scat this summer indicate Mammoth’s bears are trying to get by on mown grass from lawns and the golf courses, but there is no nutrition in that grass. They’re filling up on grass just to keep their stomachs from hurting so much.
The second-year bears are so small that some of them are only the size of a good-sized dog. The big, bad male bears are not above killing a small bear if they sense that the small bear will snatch food before they—the big boys—get a chance at it.
The bears are in the campgrounds, and scrounging isn’t the right word for it. These are desperate, starving animals. If you were starving to death, how far might you go to feed yourself? Ask the people of the world’s starving populations. Humans are not above this. Remember the gangs of cannibals who roamed the streets of Leningrad in 1941-42, seeking out weaker humans, killing them, and then eating them.
This summer is our bears’ Leningrad. There is no food.
At Bluesapalooza last weekend, unwitting concertgoers and lowlanders left their vehicle windows open. It was a bear delicatessen along Minaret Boulevard.
Bears and other wildlife leave a scent trail behind them, made of scat and urine. If a bear picks up a scent trail, it will hop on that highway right to where it ends. Often, it is in your garage, your vehicle, your restaurant, or your trash bin. What was one bear today will be four or five the next. And if a bear becomes trouble enough, then it’s goodbye bear.
Don’t feed our bears. Nature is the great arbiter here. She always has the last word.