Editor’s notice: This story was initially revealed in August 2022.
Hunters who’ve begun heading into the woods this bear looking season might discover themselves dealing with a dilemma.
Most hunters are hoping to catch a glimpse of a wholesome grownup bear, perhaps even an enormous boar they’ve been focusing on. Then once more, they could not see something in any respect.
Provided that unpredictability, hunters might encounter a state of affairs the place they need to determine whether or not to shoot a feminine bear, or sow, accompanied by her cubs.
Whereas some states have banned the observe, it’s authorized in Maine to shoot a sow accompanied by cubs or to reap a cub. Though some of us are snug harvesting the grownup bear, many hunters received’t take the shot if it is going to orphan the cubs.
The dilemma was posed not too long ago by Steven Morneault of Littleton on the Maine Black Bear Looking Fb web page. He admitted not having supported the observe basically, however urged some data he noticed about cub survival gave him pause.
“May open a can of worms with this one,” Morneault posted. “Info and actual life expertise over emotions can be preferable.”
Judging from the responses his publish elicited, public opinion is emphatic and clearly favors permitting sows with cubs to stroll away.
“I move on sows with cubs it doesn’t matter what,” Thomas Caltagirone Jr. mentioned. “I didn’t get a bear final yr due to that and I’m OK with that call.”
Black bears are normally born in January, which implies the cubs touring with a sow in September are about 9 months outdated. They may return with their mom to the den for the winter.
Sows enable their offspring to stay with them till they go into estrus, or its breeding cycle, the next spring, in keeping with the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Prevailing knowledge is that cubs that den with their mom seemingly have a greater probability of surviving the winter than people who don’t. Cubs orphaned when a sow is shot should fend for themselves, consuming enough meals to retailer sufficient fats to stave off the chilly whereas spending the winter within the den.
“I don’t want a bear unhealthy sufficient to orphan a cub,” Joseph Saracina of Berwick mentioned.
Nevertheless, there’s proof that cubs, even some launched from captivity within the wild, are generally in a position to survive the winter.
Tim Daley, who mentioned he has guided bear hunts in Maine and New Brunswick, had a dissenting opinion about taking pictures a sow — whether or not one with cubs or a solitary one which is likely to be carrying eggs in preparation for the subsequent breeding season.
“Let the biologists handle the bears with legislation,” Daley mentioned. “If that is so unethical, the folks on right here ought to petition an finish to taking pictures a sow with cubs.”
Daley additionally urged that folks ought to resist the urge to humanize bears.
“It’s not a momma and infants. It’s a sow with cubs,” he mentioned. “They aren’t orphaned, they’re impartial.”
And whereas some guides additionally might view the state of affairs as a matter of ethics, they’ve a vested curiosity in discouraging hunters fro, taking pictures sows to maintain reproducing bears alive to keep up the inhabitants for his or her purchasers.
Phil Allen mentioned he inadvertently shot a sow that had cubs throughout a hunt 4 years in the past in Vermont. The cubs solely appeared, scurrying into close by bushes, after he had taken his shot.
The cubs, it turned out, had been practically as massive because the 135-pound sow, which biologists mentioned was 18 years outdated and had produced seven litters of cubs.
“Realizing she didn’t have many extra years in entrance of her made me really feel higher, however [I] wouldn’t shoot a sow with cubs once more if I used to be given the selection,” Allen mentioned.
Randy Cross, who for a few years directed the wildlife division’s bear analysis, mentioned there isn’t an incredible quantity of data on the subject as a result of it’s so uncommon for a feminine with cubs to be harvested within the first place.
The wildlife division did monitor 5 cubs orphaned as the results of sows killed by autos in the course of the fall, he mentioned, and all of them made it by means of the next winter.
“Pattern measurement is small, so not definitive,” Cross mentioned. “Some cubs die earlier than June the next spring throughout poor meals years, even with their mom.”
Tracy Cyr of Milford urged that the choice to not shoot a sow with cubs has added leisure advantages.
“When you watch a sow with a pair cubs round a bait you’re gonna understand how cool they are surely. Then you definately’ll simply get pleasure from watching them,” Cyr mentioned.
The bear looking season started Saturday with youth day for these ages 16 and beneath, whereas the common season will get underway Monday.