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Dry weather may be leading to more bear sightings

Aug 17, 2022 12:23 pm

Andrea Macko in Porcupine Soup wonders if there are more bears around this year, as their seem to be more social media posts showing evidence of bear visits. The area's dry weather is to blame. “Bear conflicts and sightings by the public have recently occurred with a high-low pattern―the high occurring on even years,” said Jeremy Hurst, DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Likely this is driven primarily by fluctuations in natural food availability, with bears moving around more to find food during years when natural foods are less abundant.” Bears are largely vegetarian, eating mostly succulent plants, grasses, sedges, clover, insects (especially ants and bees), berries, fruits, nuts, acorns, and plant roots. But the bears have easy access they will eat amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, fish, carrion, garbage, and occasionally livestock. All the vegetation on that list is in less supply this year because of a lack of water. On Aug. 16 New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation expanded a drought watch to most of the state, including the Hudson Valley. “The perception of increased bear observations may also be influenced by factors such as social media and the increasing popularity of doorbell cameras. This can result in a few bears gaining a significant amount of attention as pictures spread quickly in a community, generating a lot of public interest,” said Hurst. Read more about this story in Porcupine Soup.