A Black Bear Comes To Provincetown!

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.

Uncredited photo of Cape Cod bear on WCBV website.

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.

Photo: Provincetown Police on Wicked Local Provincetown (click for article)

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.

Gay Bear Pride.

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.

Liam Crivellaro, 13, of West Barnstable shot video of the black bear climbing down a tree on Memorial Day. South Coast Today (click for article)

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, In the City, In the Country, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Wildlife/Natural History

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12 Comments on “A Black Bear Comes To Provincetown!”


  1. […] black bear that spent several weeks this spring wandering the forests, yards, beaches and roadways of Cape Cod has been captured.  […]

  2. mthew Says:

    Just passed through the Mid-and Upper-Cape area, had no idea there was a bear nearby. That was a lot of malls to pass through to get up the arm… actually, there’s still plenty of woodlands. I’ve seen turkeys and foxes in Hyannis.

    That warning about running from bears? Although rather heavier than the average human, even the average human bear, bears can run faster than we can.

  3. Charlotte Says:

    This seems a similar story to the wandering coyote, looking for a mate, or a home, or something, on the other side of the horizon. I do hope the wildlife service people know how to treat their bears. Please keep us posted.


    • It’s a very similar story. As I understand it, black bears stay with their mamas for up to 2.5 years! So this young male may have only recently been given the boot by mom and told it’s time to grow up. Juveniles then disperse and a male of this age at this time of year would probably be looking to mate. Unlike coyotes, black bears don’t stay with a mate to help raise the young. Rather they mate with as many females as they can find, and move on.

  4. Barbara Says:

    Spent several summers in Wellfleet and always enjoyed going to Ptown – now it seems it will be even more interesting to spend time on the Cape… do keep us up to date Melissa, and welcome back. Have missed your posts

  5. p hoey Says:

    As a seasonal Ptowner about to leave NYC for duneland, I was delighted to read about both the bear vagrant–don’t put away those traps yet, guys!–and the lovely hairy bears who come to
    visit every July. Keep us posted, please.

  6. Liz H Says:

    Hope Bear has help finding a mate! This account brings to mind a story of another bear swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. We were in Florida at the time and followed the news avidly. Wildlife services did a fantastic job at rescuing him and relocating. Here in SA we had a famous female hippo who went walkabout,”Huberta”. Travelled miles and got into all sorts of escapades.


    • A female hippo! Wow. That’s just beyond exotic for us North Americans. I’ll be interested to see what happens with the Cape Cod bear & whether wildlife services does end up trapping & relocating. The summer season is already in swing, which means there are so many people around in such a small area. Hard for a bear to go about his business!

  7. retrieverman Says:

    Bears have a lot of endurance, especially when swimming. Polar bears have been seen swimming up to 200 miles to get back to land once the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean melts.

    Both types of bears are in Massachusetts for its tolerant culture.


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