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Where We Left Off:
Another strange cat began trespassing at the Winchester-Nabu estate. It’s been given the code name Lokai.
Happy Halloween & Samhain. I’ve been having a difficult time seeing any of our local bears with my own eyes. Thankfully, with the two trail cameras, we’ve gathered some information. Nonetheless, what’s sad—though I should not have expected otherwise—is that our bear family has probably lost numbers.
In all of this summer’s photos, there seems to be one juvenile (teen/maybe 1-2 years) and only 1-2 adults. I know that their sizes can rapidly increase at a certain point like for fueling up or pregnancy. I saw the drastic changes in the Katsmai National Park bears’ photos for Fat Bear Week (Congratulations, Grazer!).
The Butler had a close encounter with what he and The Cook described as a massive bear. Of the over 40 photos collected here from the trail cameras and my admittedly awful photography, the August 27th bear looks like the biggest one. That definitely could mean that same bear is in some of the other dates too and I expect it would be; a change of angle, lighting, and natural growing makes it hard to know for sure. All I can tell for certain is that there’s a thin juvenile that’s quite different.
Based on this collection of images, none of the bears cross trailcam2 as often. That’s the newer camera. It takes great images and videos. You can see them in the images dated August 29 and the first one from September 14. Coincidentally, those appear to be the same young bear. Yet, most of the images from trailcam1 are of bears walking away from the camera which is going towards the very busy road. They cross over to get to the next patch forest, a county-owned plot that abuts more backyards and a private pond.
According to the NJ DEP, our black bears are “dangerous” with humans (*protip: they’re not if you leave them alone…attacks are rare; and if bears are known to come on your porch…lock your damn doors).
“The DEP estimates that the population in northwestern counties of Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren, where the state’s population is centered, has increased, with estimates of approximately 3,000 black bears, up from approximately 1,500 in 2018. The black bear population is projected to grow to more than 4,000 bears in the next two years. In the absence of population control measures, the rate of population growth will compound in future years as a greater number of female bears reproduce, with population reduction standing as the only scientifically sound method of restraining unchecked growth and dispersal.”—NJDEP
Of the state’s statistics, I think the most important ones are not human attacks since the bears cannot speak for themselves and humans are assholes, the attacks on dogs and livestock animals are more thought-provoking:
“Despite the additional non-lethal management efforts that NJDEP Fish & Wildlife has taken, including concerted public outreach and education, reported black bear incidents, including dangerous human-bear interactions, from January through October of 2022 have increased by 237% compared to the same period in 2021. The most concerning of these incidents include: 62 aggressive encounters with humans, 1 human attack, 12 dog attacks, 12 home entries, 15 attempted home entries, 89 instances of property damage, and 52 attacks on protected livestock.”—NJDEP
Besides the usual sorrow that comes with the hunting seasons—one in October and one in December—I haven’t seen the bear I named Silly. He was the one all of us watched as a cub grow up with a sibling and mom. Silly ended up having an injury that caused one ear to lay flat. Maybe the ear healed and it can stand up now; or maybe Silly was killed during this October’s hunt. His ear didn’t have a tag in it causing the injury either. I got the best photos of him by chance while he laid down only a few meters away while Gus, The Grumpy Old Man, and I hid behind the log splitter last year. Was Silly one of the 330 bears slaughtered this month?
The state’s data says 13.5% of the black bear population based on the number of tagged bears was killed in the first segment of the hunt. This means, they’ll definitely have the December segment because they want 30% of the bears in the state killed. Mind you, wildlife doesn’t give a shit about borders. Our black bears are also New York and Pennsylvania’s black bears. I’ve said all this before.
“If the cumulative harvest rate reaches 30% of bears tagged in 2023 the season will be closed.”—NJDEP
Let’s not forget what happens in other states. A man in Wyoming has been charged with multiple counts of slaughtering endangered animals including adult grizzlies and baby cubs and bighorn sheep. He kept trophies, naturally. Criminals don’t hide their evidence too well when they’re super proud of what they’ve done. To be non-libelous about it, the events have to be called “alleged” killings of endangered animals.
“An affidavit obtained by the Powell Tribune alleges that Grant L. Cadawaller shot and killed four grizzlies and illegally collected 12 bighorn sheep skulls, as well feathers and talons from federally-protected bald and golden eagles.”—Field & Stream
What’s the possible punishment for Cadawaller?
“According to Wyoming-based Cowboy State Daily, Cadwallader’s grizzly bear-related charges come with maximum penalties of up to one year in prison and possible fines and restitution totaling $35,000. If convicted, he could also lose hunting privileges in Wyoming and other states for up to six years. His next trail is set for March 7, 2024 in Park County Circuit Court.”—Field & Stream
Also from Field & Stream, news from Colorado about a bear poacher:
“On Friday, September 29, agents with Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) discovered three dead bears on state trust land southeast of the town of Salida. They determined that the bears had been illegally killed and dumped there, and further evidence led them to arrest a man at his home in the nearby town of Howard. 52-year-old Paul Stromberg is now facing felony and misdemeanor charges in relation to the illegal wildlife killings.”
I keep looking out for Silly with his floppy ear, but haven’t seen him. I hope one of the ones that have been caught on the trail cam are his mom and his sister Val.
As you can see from the above gallery, the bears are walking through the yard, minding their own business looking for food and mates.
Hall, T. (2023) Man charged with killing two adult grizzlies and two Cubs while shed hunting in Wyoming, Field & Stream. Available at: https://www.fieldandstream.com/conservation/man-charged-with-illegally-killing-grizzly-bears-in-wyoming/ (Accessed: 24 October 2023).
Hall, T. (2023b) Social media tips lead to arrest in Colorado bear poaching case, Field & Stream. Available at: https://www.fieldandstream.com/conservation/coloardo-man-arrested-for-poaching-black-bear-with-cubs/ (Accessed: 24 October 2023).
New Jersey, S. of (no date) Dep.nj.gov. Available at: https://dep.nj.gov/njfw/bears/black-bear-management-faqs/ and https://dep.nj.gov/njfw/bears/black-bear-harvest-data/ (Accessed: 24 October 2023).