Ask The Biologist

Bear With Me

Bear With Me

By Bob Humphrey

Coyotes aren’t the only predator that likes a little venison.

QUESTION: I’ve been getting pictures of bears on my trail cameras. We never saw them before but the last couple years they’ve been showing up. It also seems like I’m seeing less deer. Could the bears be driving the deer off or possibly killing them?

ANSWER: Bear numbers seem to be on the rise in several parts of the country, particularly the northeast in more developed areas. And research from Pennsylvania has shown they are significant predators of deer, particularly in the spring, during fawning season.

However, the two species have coexisted or eons. While deer avoid bears, they won’t necessarily leave the area. Even in places like New Jersey and West Virginia where baiting is legal, I have observed both deer and bears in the same location, just not at the same time. And while bears take their share of fawns, they probably don’t actively hunt and kill adult deer very often.

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