continued “He shot it twice,” Morrissey said. “He shot it in the shoulder and he shot it in the head.”
Dixie LeBlanc, a wildlife rehabilitator and town clerk for Long Lake, said the recent bear shooting has brought a bigger problem to light.
“I’m not happy about any of it, but it wasn’t a bear problem—it was a people problem,” LeBlanc said. “People were feeding it, and when that happens it always ends badly for the bear.”
Some residents around the community claimed the bear’s mother had been hit by a vehicle, leaving it orphaned, but LeBlanc said that, given the bear’s age, which she estimated at about one-and-a-half years, the mother bear might have recently weaned the youngster.
LeBlanc added that her goal is to use this incident as a learning tool, and that she wants to organize meetings next spring to tell people how to best prevent animals from becoming accustomed to human interaction.
“You know, we’re living here with these animals, and we’re not doing them any favors,” LeBlanc said. “When I saw him, I think I could have walked up to him and fed him. That’s how accustomed to people he was.”
Some Long Lake residents are still angry about the shooting, and some have said that a Ray Brook-based DEC staffer was on scene with a culvert trap, and that the bear’s life could have been spared.
DEC spokesperson Dave Winchell acknowledged that someone was there with a trap, but that the plan was still to shoot the bear after transporting it to a different location.
“Because it had lost its fear of humans and was actively approaching humans seeking food, this became a public safety hazard,” Winchell said. “It’s been documented that bears that do that eventually become more aggressive when they don’t receive food from people, and we’re not going to let it proceed to that point.”