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Berry-Hungry Bears Take Lid Off Maine Town, Shake Up Residents

July 22, 1987|Associated Press

GREENVILLE, Me. — A shortage of wild berries in Maine's forests has drawn hungry black bears into this hunting and fishing town, where they have raided trash cans and tried to claw their way into cottages.

One woman in town "woke up the other night and a bear was looking right through the screen at her," said Lt. Steve Hall of the Maine Warden Service.

Another brazen bruin tried to get into a cooking shed at a campground, but the person inside "screamed and hollered and he took off," said Hall.

Stake Out Dumps

While the possibility of a bear attack frightens some people, others have been staking out the local garbage dump to see the animals, which normally are afraid of humans. Some people have risked injury by hand-feeding bears, and others have harassed bears by throwing rocks at them.

The problem stems from a shortage earlier this summer of berries that the bears feed on, said Hall.

"The berries are ripe now, but the bears are still persisting in raiding local dumps, garbage and wherever there's food," said Hall.

A state biologist, Bill Noble, said the closing of a dump on the edge of town may have also contributed to the bear invasion. In addition, wildlife officials believe the black bear population has risen sharply since spring bear hunting was halted a few years ago.

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