As this blazing hot and drought-stricken summer continues across the western US and Canada, it’s not just us humans feeling the heat. Stream flows are reaching dangerously low levels and high water temperatures, which stress cold-water species like trout, foreshadow fish kills in many iconic streams.
Terrestrial species are suffering as well. Take black bears for example. The heat and drought diminish the wild foods bears rely on, sending more of the bruins out of the hills into human habitats. Bears are showing up in residential and other developed areas looking for something to eat. This pattern is likely to worsen as wild berry crops of serviceberry, chokecherry, currants, and others fail or are reduced in quantity. Lack of rainfall is responsible, made worse by the desiccating heat.
Likewise hungry bears, just trying to fill their bellies, are sure to frequent national forest and park recreational sites more often. It’s more important than ever for recreationists to properly store their food and keep snack and garbage-free campsites to deter the bears. Being bear aware protects people and bears as well. Be Bear Aware
Places where they’ve gotten a free lunch from humans, bears are unlikely to forget. As bear-human conflicts develop, bears often pay a high price. Far too many are needlessly euthanized to protect humans who may have unintentionally habituated bears to homesites and campsites in search of food.
This summer of record heat is likely to be worse than most for bears. Please protect yourself and our wild neighbors that are simply trying to make a living.