Tree Farms’ Biggest Threat: Bears?

When most people think of tree farms, they probably don’t imagine bears. But the animals favor tree farms as a food source, especially after hibernation. This critical time is also when trees are most vulnerable.

From Capital Press:

Black bears, common in timbered areas of the West, strip the bark off healthy trees and chew or lick the sap running underneath. Until wild berries ripen, especially salmonberries, tree sap is their food of choice.

Ken Miller, who has a 65-acre tract of timberland southwest of Olympia, Wash., said 50 percent of his trees have been damaged over the past few years. Up to a fifth of those have been girdled, which means they’re dead.

The situation can get serious quickly. The article states black bears can kill up to 60 trees per day.

The irony in all this is that tree farmers actually wouldn’t mind losing trees to black bears. A slight thinning reduces the number of black bears.

“I enjoy the wildlife,” he said. “If only they could take every third
tree and thin my crop for me. But they’ll destroy holes in the crop.”

Solutions include feeding the bears pellets so they don’t eat trees.
Permits for hunting bears with dogs were also issued separate from the
regular bear season.

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