Letter: Create a habitat so urban bears can safely forage for berries

My name is Brittany Brady and I am a former resident of Alaska who now resides on the Oregon Coast, which also has a large population of black bears. I work as an aquarist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and was inspired to write after reading the article about Brooke Collins who confronted a bear that was trying to walk off with her dog. While most people are cheering her on (and don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she was able to retrieve her pet without sustaining injury) I believe it’s not only sad, but could be a canary to many more confrontations. It was the quote by Bioligist Neil Barten who mentioned “This year, I think, is a lot worse than last year. I would attribute that to lack of a berry crop” that gave me an idea.

Would it be possible to create a habitat restoration project that promotes bear nutriment in the form of the state selecting an appropriate location for volunteers/staff to intentionally plant berry bushes? I believe this may be one way to create a positive alternative to residential garbage and give communities another way to feel as though they can directly help the bear scavenging problem in a non-lethal manner under state supervision.

I understand the weather will dictate the outcome of the plants and some years will simply be worse than others, but, I believe there is still room for giving the bears an appropriate grazing area. This kind of project is going to be more challenging than say putting up a song bird feeder but, just might be a longer-term solution than simply hiding the garbage cans, because next comes broken windows and scarier confrontations. The obvious core of the problem is these bears are hungry. If we take steps to encourage a natural food source in a non-populated area logic dictates the bears will follow the food. Easier said than done, I know.

Brittany Brady

Depoe Bay, Ore.

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