By: Kristen Connolly
Imagine gaining a hundred pounds and losing a hundred pounds every year. That's not something we humans are accustomed to. But for Black Bears that's a different story.
That's just one fact a Wausau man has uncovered in his many years of studying this species.
As I learned these animals are not man eating beasts but gentle giants.
In the 1980's Jeff Traska beginning researching Black Bears and their role in nature,he soon realized that these animals are intelligent and have many similarities to human nature.
In the dead of winter bears are doing one thing,hibernating. But at the Wisconsin Black Bear Education center they are doing something else, educating.
"There very much like human beings, they get in habits, they do things the easiest way possible and their whole life is made up of food." Jeff explains. "Finding food to survive so that during the winter time they can hibernate, like they are now."
Eating for bears is like work for humans. He says they are not the mean and intimidating as they are sometimes portrayed.
"They're really not that type of an animal; they're out there surviving, eating that's what their livelihood is just like us going to work. Their whole life is made up of food."
But doing things the easiest ways, may not always be nature's ways.
"They will basically go out and pursue the food that they know that they need, but in the meantime they run into these bird feeders or human food, that is very tasty for them, not necessarily good." Explaining why bears come into neighborhoods." And there into this rhythm, into this daily, routine, if its there all the time they are just going to continually eat it."
One of the main goals of the Wisconsin Black Education Center during the winter is informing the public of keeping food sources away from black bears when they come out of hibernation in the spring. This will keep the bears in their natural habitat.
"That's what it is, once the reward is gone, that animal is off to your possibly neighbors or whoever else is doing the feeding, but educating the general public on what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong is what we are here for."
This is why after five years of testing and construction Jeff has developed his own device called the Birds Only Bird Feeder. It is one significant measure in helping control the "reward" which bears and other animals are attracted to. For more information on the device and the education center you can find check out their website. There is also information on his patented bird feeder.
Online Reporter: Kristen Connolly