People, Bears, Record Clashes In Western US


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the same message on Monday at a special session on climate change, urging quick action to stem emissions that heat the planet.

"Today let the world know that you are ready to shoulder this responsibility and that you will address this challenge head on," Ban told some 80 world leaders at the session's opening.

"The time has come to stop looking back at the Kyoto Protocol," Schwarzenegger said. "It is time to stop looking back in blame or suspicion ... The rich nations and the poor nations have different responsibilities, but one responsibility we all have is action."

Ban wants the one-day gathering to send a "strong political message" about the urgency of the problem of curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.


SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Black bears in search of food are wreaking havoc across the western United States, with wildlife managers reporting a record number of conflicts with people and a rise in the number of bears killed to protect the public.

"It's nuts out there," said Kevin Hurley, wildlife management coordinator with Wyoming Game and Fish.

American black bears, which are exclusive to North America, dwell in forests from Mexico to Canada. Weighing from 150 to 500 pounds (68 kg to 227 kg), adult bears can have a range of up to 250 square miles.

They begin hunting for high-calorie foods immediately after emerging from hibernation in spring and forage for up to 20 hours a day until they enter dens in fall.

Late freezes, drought and tree infestations in the Rocky Mountain West have diminished the sources of natural food from bugs to berries the bears eat. Now they are hunting for food in all the wrong places, from backcountry campgrounds to suburban kitchens.

In recent days, bear sightings have locked down schools in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and emptied neighborhoods as officials sought to capture or kill them.


In Colorado, bears have burst through the front doors of homes, sauntered into stores and broken into cars. Officials say the number of bears killed by state wildlife officers this year has topped a record 43 killed between January and August in 2002.


"It's a difficult day here when we decide we have to put down a bear; it's the last thing we want to have to do," said Colorado Division of Wildlife's Tyler Baskfield.

Wildlife officers in northwest Wyoming, where luxury housing is crowding into prime bear habitat, are fielding 100 calls a week about bears feasting in fruit trees and snoozing on front lawns. Game wardens have killed twice as many bears this season -- conservatively estimated at 15 -- as they kill in an average year.

In Montana, hungry bears have plowed through dumpsters and grabbed garbage from garages, a pattern Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Captain Sam Sheppard says is unusual for its scope, duration and intensity.

Wildlife officers across Western states have renewed campaigns to stem bear conflicts by retraining humans.

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where a bear recently lumbered through the open door of a daycare center, officials have plastered neighborhoods with signs urging residents to harvest fruit, remove birdfeeders and "bear-proof" their garbage.

"Bears are just being bears," said Mark Bruscino, bear management program supervisor with Wyoming Game and Fish, noting that people living near bear country have a social obligation to take steps to discourage the animals from foraging in populated areas.