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The Urban Phantom: Why bears are like drug addicts

The suspect was first reported rummaging through trash in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood shortly before midnight on Sunday, and pretty soon 14 police were in hot pursuit with flashing lights and a bear-scenting dog, according to the The Seattle Times. The derelict had several known aliases, including Leif Bearickson and Urban Phantom.

At just two years old, this black bear is far too young for a life on the street—but, as of today, he is still apparently at large and making headlines around the country.

All that fanfare must have given a sense of purpose to the problem bear scientists currently attending the 10th Western Black Bear Workshop in Reno, Nev. The scientists reported that in the last 30 years, the number of problem bears killed in Alaska have almost doubled, and the number of complaints in Nevada have gone from almost nothing to 1,500 per year, according to the Associated Press.

The problem is not bears, but people, said Rich Beausoleil of the Washington Department of Fish and Game, who was apparently not on the trail of Urban Phantom. "To me it's about people management, it’s garbage management, it’s education,” he told USA Today.

It’s also about bird seed. “Bears are like drug addicts,” Hank Hristienko of the conservation agency in Manitoba, Canada told the AP, “Once it gets hooked on sunflower seeds...it’ll hit six or seven feeders, get 20,000 calories, and be quite happy.” 

You read that right: bears can eat up to 20,000 calories per day.

Photo of black bear courtesy of bob the builder of luv on Flickr

 

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