CONTACT NEEDED: "What will happen to Cookie, a bear with a people-food craving"
Action Alerts From Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)

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CONTACT NEEDED: "What will happen to Cookie, a bear with a people-food craving"

From: Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)
July 17, 2020 

Black bears rarely harm people; the DEC calls this bear taking food from people 'a pattern of dangerous human contact.'

Please join this ADOW member in her efforts to stop this upstate mama bear from being separated from her babies and killed; please make the following contacts ASAP:

[email protected]
(phone) 631-751-3094
[email protected] 

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

(phone) 845-256-3175

Thank you for helping the animals!


What will happen to Cookie, a bear with a people-food craving in Harriman State Park?

Animal rights activists are concerned about a Cookie, a momma black bear with a craving for picnic food in Harriman State Park.

In recent weeks, the Cookie walked into campsites and went through several tents near the park’s Fingerboard Shelter and took food from a family with children who were cooking breakfast, the Department of Environmental Conservation and state Parks Department said in a joint statement.

These incidents continue the bear's three-year pattern of "dangerous human contact" at Harriman State Park, the DEC and state Parks Department said.

"Previous attempts at 'hazing' the bear with loud noises and rubber buckshot, and trapping and tranquilizing the bear to mark it for future identification have failed to dissuade its behavior," the two agencies said in an emailed joint statement. "This presents a risk to the safety of campers and hikers as the bear has learned to associate humans with food."

Sarah McGurk is among the people and organizations concerned that Cookie, who she said has multiple cubs, will be put down.

McGurk said there are "inadequate" bear facilities in the park, including the lack of bear boxes, which are locked containers that campers uses while sleeping in an area where there could be bears, and too many open-barrel trash cans that bears rummage through. She also said many of the park goers are native Spanish speakers and the signs regarding bears are only in English.

The DEC and state Parks Department are evaluating all potential management options in accordance with New York State's bear management guidelines but haven't said what their course of action will be. McGurk said killing the bear who's "acclimated to humans food" would be a "terrible solution."

"The DEC is meant to protect the environment and wildlife and instead they are taking the easy way out and being very lazy," McGurk said in an email. "If they told you that they haven't made a decision, I believe that's a lie. I certainly hope it's not, but since I haven't heard back from the DEC myself, I don't know definitively."

McGurk said the the parks need to do a better job of educating park goers about bears.

"The fact of the matter is when we enter a protected state park we are in their territory and we need to respect their lives," McGurks said. "People enter Harriman and feel that they should automatically be protected from wildlife but the fact of the matter is that the wildlife always needs protection from humanity. The only truly dangerous animal in the park is a person."

The DEC and state Parks Department said they have stepped up their education and park-modification efforts to reduce bear/human interaction, including:

- installation of a signage and a cable at the Fingerboard Shelter for campers to hang food outside the reach of bears.
requiring camps at the Beaver Pond campground to store food in their cars or in bear-resistant canisters.
installing bear-resistant dumpsters in problem areas of the park (17 such dumpsters were purchased last fall) and modifying two existing dumpsters to make them bear resistant.

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