Getting less dumb about bears

| 29 Dec 2014 | 04:49

Anyone else notice what was wrong with the bear on page 22 of last issue?

It’s always a crash course when you’re reporting a news story, a race against the clock to become proficient enough with your subject before deadline that you get it right. Plan B: quote people who know what they’re talking about and hope you don’t give yourself away. When that doesn’t work, fortunately, we have our readers to fill us in, and let us know (nicely, too!) when we blow it.

Dear Editor,

The bear picture on page 22 of your latest issue of Dirt is of a grizzly bear, not a black bear! Luckily, this species does not live in NY/NJ, or we’d have a lot more hikers being “eaten”!

[Editor’s reply: Oh wow. How can you tell -- the back? Snout? I guess that just goes to illustrate how dumb most of us -- myself very much included -- are about bears.]

The hump on the back is distinctive to grizzlies. There are a lot of other differences but this is the most obvious one.

Kathy Lang, Vernon, NJ

Dear Editor,

Excellent story! I wish we could hear more from the other men who were with the victim, something doesn’t sound right about the story. I am a bear lover and often see them while out hiking. I’ve never felt even the tiniest bit afraid. I respect them completely and do know the rules of the forest. I see the need for more public education on how to handle wildlife sightings while out in their territories.

Carol Linguanti, Warwick, NY

Dear Editor,

I deeply enjoyed the detail and perspective of your bear article. I met Susan Kehoe; she is fascinating. I appreciated your balanced article.

This is the cub that appears on my deck at noon. We do not consider him a friend; we keep the glass door closed as he joins us. By ‘us,’ I mean me, my Puggle and my Chihuahua. I choose to leave out my bird food since I love to watch the birds… once the cub is finished.

One of the problems about which I assume you know little, since I did not know: a man from the NJDEP was here to tag the bears. It was brutal to watch him shoot the bears with rubber pellets (mother and cubs were very high up in trees) because they yelped. The mother bear was terrified and angry.

He told me his group gave 50K to the Great Gorge condo association for garbage-proof dumpsters. Yet we do not have those dumpsters.

Janine Hummel, Vernon, NJ