Assistant Press Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
After making his way down Cape Cod, a wandering black bears' extended Cape vacation has finally come to an end. Throughout his two week trip, which began on Memorial Day weekend, the bear gained popularity with local residents and through a bear-themed Twitter feed and Facebook page. But his quick escalation to fame inevitably led to his capture and relocation.
Photo credit: MassWildlife.
The bear (a 3-year-old between 180-200 pounds) made his way from Sandwich to Provincetown after he was believed to swim across the Cape Cod Canal. He was spotted everywhere from chicken coops to a golf course and wandering through cranberry bogs and backyards, so he got his fair share of site seeing in before his capture in Wellfleet.
On Monday evening the Cape's wildly popular tourist, was sent – with the help of the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) – back to more familiar territory. For the protection of the animal and public safety, wildlife officials sought out the bear with the intention of relocating to more appropriate habitat. Jason Zimmer, a MassWildlife district manager on the Cape, worked with local and state environmental authorities to relocate the black bear to central Massachusetts closer to existing bear populations and habitat. Officials believe the bear wandered down to the Cape prompted by breeding instincts. His relocation will give him a better opportunity to find a mate.
Black bears are not aggressive animals by nature and can adjust to human presence. The Cape sighting is peculiar because the Cape is a rare habitat for the black bear. MassWildlife Researcher Laura Conlee, black bear and furbearer project leader, is researching how bears interact with specific suburban landscape features, much like the Cape. MassWildlife is conducting a bear research study through the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts.
This year Laura is working on attaching GPS collars on adult female black bears (MassWildlife only collars female bears) in central and eastern Massachusetts. These GPS collars record the specific locations of the bears every 45 minutes. Laura plans to create a statewide habitat and population model with this new data, which helps researchers understand preferred habitat, typical behaviors and mortality rates of bears. Her research will continue MassWildlife’s ongoing bear research efforts, which began over 30 years ago.
You can help biologists track these animals by reporting bear sightings by contacting MassWildlife’s Central District office at (508) 835-3607. Visit MassWildlife for more information about bears. Or check out Marion Larsen’s recent blog post about MassWildlife’s bear tagging efforts in the field.