Woman Feeds Bears — And Ends Up Killing Them
The tragic fate that two black bears suffered this week is a sad reminder of what happens if you love animals in the wrong way.
Colorado resident Jo Ann Medina was arrested last week after years of feeding wild bears from her yard. She has a long history of warnings and citations for attracting the large predators, and two fines for feeding white-tailed deer.
After Medina was arrested, officials set out to trap the bears who were venturing up to her home for food. Some have had previous run-ins with authorities, and so far, officials have put down two of the bears.
Medina was released on bail, but the bears are paying a much steeper price. And while there's no doubt that Medina loved the bears, one expert explained to The Dodo why feeding wildlife - and bears in particular - is such a bad idea.
"It's never a good idea to feed wildlife," said Dana Dodd, president of the board of Appalachian Bear Rescue, which raises and releases orphaned cubs. "They will come back."
Bears are notoriously smart, which actually hurts them when it comes to human interactions. Once a bear realizes humans equal food, he'll likely stop at nothing to find it.
"They don't know the difference between being fed off your deck, or your neighbor's deck, and someone's deck a mile away who has no idea you're feeding them," Dodd said. "They don't know the difference between what you're throwing out to them, and the ice cream cone in your grandson's hand."
Feeding bears can also deter them from their natural way of living, as they quickly learn that looking through trash cans and garages is much easier than foraging for themselves. "They lose the ability to go out and find food," Dodd said. "Because they'd rather go to the buffet you're sending out to them. Who wouldn't?"
It's no secret that many wildlife departments have policies that are unfair to the animals they deal with - and will punish an animal even if, as in this case, humans are the ones at fault. And as Dodd noted, relocating bears doesn't work as well as with some other animals because they're so phenomenal at finding their way back, so fatal measures are often taken.
Like it or not, many wildlife departments won't think twice before killing a bear who's interacted with humans. So if you actually love wild animals, encourage them to stay away from you - and stay safe.
"You set them up in a situation where they're going to die," Dodd said of feeding them. "There's too much interaction."