Evidence that Nonlethal Works

Major Report: Baiting the Black Bear

There are two American wildlife traditions. This report is dedicated to the memory of pioneer preservationists William Temple Hornaday, Rosalie Edge, and John Muir, whose contributions have been obscured, and exploited, by the “interlocking” forces — firearms manufacturers, allied conservationists, and game departments, they exposed and fought against.

The hunting of black bear (Ursus americanus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) over bait is an overlooked yet critical component of New Jersey’s black bear management program. Baiting for deer or bear changes the behavior of bears and leads to food conditioning and habituation to humans.

Artificial feeding contributes to potential conflicts and property damage, alterations in bear behavior and foraging habits, increased or sustained reproductive rate, physical size, distribution, and numbers.

Baiting has significant negative impacts on a wide range of non-target species, and contributes to forest degeneration, predation on ground-nesting birds, the spread of disease and invasive plants, increased illegal activity, and increased automobile-deer collisions. Read biologist Tom Eveland’s literature review here: Baiting the Black Bear

Our Urban Wildlife Series takes an in-depth look at black bear management and the issues surrounding it.

The first report in our Urban Wildlife Series takes a look at Bear Smart Legislation and Management Solutions.

The second report in the Series, exposes the reasons behind the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s reluctance to embrace Bear Smart community programs and its continued push for bear hunts.

In 2005, Rutgers’ professor, Edward A. Tavvs, produced a report studying the correlation of the reduction in nuisance black bear complaints with implementation of a hunt vs. a non-lethal program.

The hunting approach was investigated by reviewing data from four U.S. states (Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, as well as the province of Ontario, Canada). The non-lethal program was investigated by reviewing data from three U.S. national parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite and Great Smoky) and three communities bordering national parks (Juneau [Alaska], Elliot Lake [Ontario, Canada] and the Lake Tahoe Basin [Nevada]), as well as the state of New Jersey.

The Tavvs study proves conclusively that hunting black bears does not result in decreasing complaints. In fact, it correlates with increasing complaints. The non-lethal approach, focusing on garbage control results in decreasing complaints. View the report here.