Bears are exiting their winter dens, so it’s the perfect time for Protect Our Wildlife to share their new bear report, “Vermont Black Bears and How to Effectively Manage Conflict.” The report is the product of a five-month-long project launched by an Environmental Sciences student at the University of Vermont and was overseen by Protect Our Wildlife. Contributors to the report also include a Stowe, VT resident with a Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics with post-doctoral research experience from Harvard Medical School, as well as an ecologist, and other experts with varied backgrounds.
Jennifer Lovett, POW Board member who has a Masters in conservation biology from Antioch University, shared, “Vermont cannot hunt its way out of black bear conflicts.” The 2020 bear hunt produced a record 921 bears killed, with half being female. “We have an obligation to learn how to coexist,” she added. Bears are also hunted with hounds, which is one of the more contentious methods of hunting. The report impresses the following on Vermonters, “Before we choose lethal methods of bear management, we also need to consider the ethics and impact to bear families. Bears form tight family units with the cubs staying with their mother for about a year and a half. When we implement lethal control, this disrupts the bear’s natural lifecycle, potentially leaving a cub to grow up without a mother.”
The report touches on a number of matters from possible reasons why there was such a dramatic increase in bear complaints reported to VT Fish & Wildlife in 2020 to simple things we can each do to prevent bear conflicts from happening in the first place. “I really hope that this report helps Vermonters learn how to be better bear neighbors,” shared Will Spitter, the UVM environmental sciences student who began the bear project back in the fall of 2020. For more information on Vermont’s bears, please visit Protect Our Wildlife at protectourwildlifevt.org/bears.