A handsome young male black bear has turned up in Provincetown, Massachusetts at the very tip of the Cape Cod peninsula, 30 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The bear probably swam across the Cape Cod Canal, which separates the peninsula from the mainland, in his search for a mate. Since Memorial Day, he has been spotted all over the Cape, making his way from Sandwich to Barnstable, Orleans, Wellfleet, Truro and, finally, Provincetown, the end of the road.
The bear, whose age is estimated at two or three, may be the first bear ever on Cape Cod and is certainly the first in several hundred years. He has been spotted in the National Seashore that stretches up the narrow neck of the Cape as well as trotting along by the side of Route 6.
Authorities have been watching his progress, and trying to figure out what to do about his presence in the small, densely populated area of Provincetown. Traps were set in hopes of capturing and relocating him off-Cape in an area where he might find the love he’s looking for.
Yesterday, the Cape Cod Times reported the traps were being removed and attempts to capture the bear were being suspended. State wildlife officials, who will be monitoring the bear’s presence closely, seem to be hoping he will head back the way he came from, staying out of trouble with humans.
Oddly enough, Provincetown is accustomed to bears, but bears of a very different kind.
The term “bear” is used for a member of a gay subculture that, according to the Beltway Bears, “don’t feel comfortable with the prevailing standard defining stereotypes of what a gay man should be or look like,” and instead “prefer men who act masculine, are physically affectionate (Bear hugs!) and who are low/no attitude.” Or as a colleague, a proud bear, recently put it, bears are typically “big, hairy guys who like other big, hairy guys.”
Every summer, the Provincetown Bears host Bear Week, when human bears from around the world gather to meet and celebrate. A joke running around Provincetown is that the Black bear is just a few weeks early; Bear Week doesn’t start until July 7th.
But back to wildlife. Black bears are shy and rarely aggressive toward humans. To minimize contact, humans in bear country should secure all trash in bear-proof containers and take down bird feeders. Here are guidelines from the American Bear Association in case you do encounter a bear:
- Stay calm. DO NOT RUN (running may elicit a chase response by the bear)
- Pick up children so they don’t run or scream.
- RESTRAIN YOUR DOG.
- Avoid eye contact and talk in a soothing voice.
- If the bear stands up, he is NOT going to attack but is curious and wants a better sniff or view
- Back away slowly. If the bear chomps their jaw, lunges or slaps the ground or brush with paw he feels threatened.
- Slowly retreat from the area or make a wide detour around the bear. DO NOT block or crowd the bear’s escape route.
Please let me know if you hear more about Cape Cod’s roaming Black bear.