Black bears in the northeast are generally very shy of people. They will usually know you're around and be gone long before you ever get a chance to see them. Since growing up in the boondocks of northern Vermont and roaming the woods of that area and now doing the same in northern New Hampshire, I've only encountered three bears.
The most recent was in the mid 80's in Cabot Vermont. My wife and I were looking at some property with another couple. Glenn and I were walking about 100 feet ahead of the women folk when his wife let out a yell. There was a black bear crashing through the woods on the dead run in their direction. My wife had her .357 magnum trained on it just in case. The thing barreled along right by them and passed about 50 feet from us. I don't think it ever knew we were there.
Predators such as wolves, coyotes, cougars, and bears are making a stunning comeback. We've seen 3 large coyotes this year (1997). One near Island Pond, Another in Lunenburg, and I often see one just north of Franconia Notch on route 3.
We havn't had too many interactions between these animals and humans yet and probably won't. They seldom frequent the hiking trails as most of the trails are in areas deviod of the little animals the predators eat. This is because the humans in charge of the forests around the hiking trails have to satisfy the likings of the hikers who tend to be folks from the city, knowing next to nothing about the real world of the forest.
The little animals (mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, etc.) who are destined to become food for the predators need food. Forests of "beautiful big trees untouched by humans" that the city folks think are all the north country should have, don't offer a great deal of food for animals.
I hate hiking on most "hiking trails". It's far more enjoyable to hike logging roads in areas that have been logged over in recent years. These areas are loaded with grasses, berries, saplings of every type, wildflowers and other plants essential for a large and diverse population of animals and birds.
The Indians "knew how to handle the forest". If lightning didn't burn enough of it down, they'd torch it to clear the way for the plants the animals they wanted to hunt to eat.
We have found a better way to provide for the animals. We log it, and use the wood to make toilet paper, computer paper, wall paper, check paper, cardboard, cups, paper plates, newspaper, plywood, oil filters, lumber, veneer, and a whole lot more. The wood that isn't a high enough quality for any of these uses is chipped and burned to produce electricity. Nothing is wasted any more. Even the ash from the electric plants is given to farmers to buffer the soil instead of using lime. The ultimate in conservation. Hmmm... get it? Conservation, conservative? Make the most of your resources, don't waste them?
Remember back in the '70's and '80's when environmentalists (including me) had bumper stickers that said, "Split Wood Not Atoms"? Well, now we're chipping wood to make electricity, and guess what? Many "environmentalists" are protesting that!
The only thing I wish is for loggers to leave a little brush pile, perhaps the limbs and tops from a couple of trees heaped up every acre or so to give the rabbits and partridge a little cover.
Recently a logger in the area was fined over $10,000 by the wetlands police (wetlands commission) for putting in a few culverts on his own property so he could log it. This involves usually putting a culvert in a small stream and dozing up some gravel or laying in some logs and dirt to make a road over it. What the city folks in the wetlands police don't realize is that when you build a road, be it a logging road or an interstate highway, you often create more "wetlands" than you destroy. The road ends up creating a little dam, often beavers come in and plug the culvert, in no time you have more wetlands than ever.
It would be nice if the folks from the cities would just come up here and enjoy the north country, not try to tell us how to run things.
The first 6 years of my life was spent in the middle of nowhere in Worcester, Vermont, where if your next door neighbor shot a gun you'd never hear it. I went to sleep to the sound of the hooting of the bears, scream of the bobcat and hoot of the owl. The "house" had been a logging camp, my folks had a small sawmill.
When I was 6 my folks moved to the town of West Bolton which had enough families for a one room school. We had 7 kids one year, 18 the biggest. It was an interesting place to grow up as across the road and across Mill Brook from our house was the West Bolton Range. The government had bought up all the land around World War one or before (late 1800's to early 1900's) to make a range for artillery practice. There is an area with a small arms range and another for testing of gatling guns. The rest is just undisturbed forest for a buffer zone.
We weren't supposed to go on the range, so of course we did. The forest north of Mill Brook and to the top of the mountain behind had become the equivalent of "virgin forest", huge trees. Nothing else. It was a beautiful area to walk in, but it quickly became depressing. It was silent. No birds, a few squirrels, other than that, nothing.
International Paper owned the land on the mountain above our house. Every so often they would log sections, some with clear cuts, some with selective cutting, depending on what was there. The clear cuts would look like a mess for a year or two, but soon they were loaded with plants growing and animals. The selective cut areas would be the same, but to a lesser extent.
You'd see "bear claw trees" demarking areas of the cut over sections just as the timber cruisers had blazed the areas to be cut with axes. The bears are signalling other bears that this area full of animals to eat is "their" territory.
What I see of many of the environmentalists and other city folk who don't have a clue as to how to manage a forest reminds me of an incident that happened soon after we moved to West Bolton.
We had no running water, electricity or phone, which wasn't unusual as we didn't have it in Worcester either. My folks had dug a spring on the mountain above the house and were installing a large metal tank to store water below the spring. They were hauling it on the back of their truck up a steep hill and the truck had become stuck. My father had a come-along hitched to a tree and the front of the truck. He was working like crazy trying to pull it up the hill while my mother was in the truck giving it the gas. I was standing off to the side out of danger.
I spotted something unusual and was yelling at my father to tell him about it, but he kept telling me to "shut up". Finally he gave up, threw the come-along aside, looked at me fiercely, and shouted, "Well, what is it?" I quietly replied, "the wheels are going backwards."
Many "environmentalists" remind me of that. They've been to colleges and universities listening to other "environmentalists", have decided on what's right for the world, and are going to shove it down everyone's throats. Meanwhile those of who have grown up in the outdoors and know more than these folks will ever learn in a classroom about the "real woods" just shake our heads in disbelief at what they try to force on everyone else. "Their wheels are turning backwards".
I wish they would just open their minds, come up here and hike in areas other than their hallowed trails for a while. Pick a logging road open your mind and just see what's happening. See what's in sections logged this year, then a year before, and so on. Pretty soon you'll realize what you've been taught isn't quite the same as what really happens in the woods.
One of the wild ideas a lot of "environmentalists" have is that the north country and a lot of the rest of the country should be taken over by the government to be "wilderness areas" and "wildlife corridors". This is the same bunch that was protesting the "establishment" and the government in the '60's! (I was one of them on environmental issues). And they want to trust the government now??? It seems a little odd that they want to put the government in control of the "wilderness" with the track record governments have for screwing things up.
When you have many private landowners owning the forests, a few might screw up things on a small scale, but the overwhelming majority will do well by the land. When you have the government running anything, the potential is there for monumental messes.
Trees grow far differently in the northeast than the northwest. You don't have to plant. There are already young trees waiting to get some light to grow as well as seeds ready to propogate as soon as the canopy is removed from above.
To environmentalists: the following is an excerpt from an environmentalists' web site:
"The Sierra Club supports protecting all federal publicly-owned lands in the United States by advocating an end to all commercial logging on these lands."
And my comment:
Please do not continuue to support a law that paints all of the forests nationwide with the same broad brush, when they are very different. Doing so by supporting such an idea as ending logging in the National Forest here will destroy the ecosystem and diverse wildlife in the northeast.
B-37. Environmental Education
The National Education Association believes that the nation's priorities must include the protection of our environment. The Association urges the establishment and maintenance of Federal Wilderness Areas, Recreational Areas, Refuge Areas, and designated local green areas. The Association further urges the development and improvement of educational programs that will --
Sounds good, but the Federal Goverment taking away more private lands and property rights... And again.... Do you Really trust "the Government???
c. Promote an understanding of the necessity to protect endangered, threatened, and rare species
More kangaroo rat fiascos? (Lock more poor innocent folks up just because they happened to be plowing on their own land and ran over a rat?) The "protection" of "endangered" species is now causing the quiet killing of them. Landowners are so terrified of the results of reporting finding anything "endangered" on their property, they're just quietly killing anything unusual they come upon so as not to lose their property rights and value through unconstitutional taking without compensation.
The environmentalists' extreemism on this issue is backfiring, causing more truly endangered species to be wiped out than ever.
h. Promote the recognition of and participation in Earth Day activities
Have you ever noticed that almost wherever there is an Earth Day activity involving a large crowd, especially in Washington DC, there is always a huge amount of trash left by the participants to be picked up?
i. Promote the understanding of the value of the world's forests, waters, wetlands, deserts, and grasslands.
Environmental groups, some from Boston want to trample all over private property rights up here. They use wetlands laws among other tactics to go after folks just trying to make a living. A good deal of Boston is filled in wetlands. Let's make these laws and regulations retroactive to 1620! How about knocking down the area (most of Boston) that was wetlands in 1620 and doze it out to restore it to its natural condition of swampland. No, you won't be able to build a bridge to it, that would be disturbing a wetland. A ferry landing is out of the question for the same reason. Just applying the law the same as it's applied up here. Oh, and those airports down there, Logan and Hanscom? Going to have to rip them out too, a lot of the land they were built on was wetlands.
We love to have folks from all over the world come here to visit! We won't try to tell you how to run things where you're from, please don't try to do the same to us! The tourism industry is huge up here because it's so beautiful. We're enjoying the best view of the Lancaster area we've had in years because loggers clear cut a section next to route 3 just south of town on Corrigan Hill. Enjoy it while you can as the trees are growing quickly and in a few years the view will dissappear again until the next time it's logged.
I'll admit some of what you just read is editorial content, but at least I admit it, unlike the "talking heads" on the evening news or many of the other folks in print or electronic media today, not to mention a lot of professors. A lot of you are agreeing with me right now, and some are mad. The truth can hurt sometimes.