WAYLAND – When DEC wildlife technician Jeb McConnell walked up on this bruin black bear secured in a trap on Rte. 21, he knew it was the biggest bear he’d ever handled in his career, estimating at first that it weighed about 480 pounds.
The boss bear actually tipped the scales at a whopping 560 pounds, and apparently knows how to use it. McConnell, 28, of Mount Morris, says the bear had repeatedly broken into a storage shed on Rte. 21, apparently because he had a sweet tooth for sunflower birdseed.
“We were getting numerous calls from multiple people about this guy,” said McConnell. “He was after the sunflower birdseed in the shed, and that’s what we actually ended up baiting with, birdseed and donuts. The biggest bear I’ve ever handled besides him was 450 pounds, actually the first bear I ever handled.”
McConnell, who considers himself a newbie at 6 years on the job, said that longtime DEC veteran Marty DeLong didn’t hesitate to jump in the trap with the tranquilized bear, pull one of his teeth out, and attach tags to his ears, marking him as number 826 in case a hunter kills him later this year or if he otherwise succumbs to natural causes.
“It was Marty’s last day on the job, and there he is lying on top of a huge bear in a culvert trap,” added McConnell. “The tag has a 1-800 number for hunters to call, since he has had the drug in him we want to make sure enough time has passed if a hunter takes him that he will be fit for consumption.”
McConnell said that the point of trapping this bear was to give him a strong negative association with the area, which will hopefully curb his destructive behavior. The bear’s tooth will go to a wildlife lab to tell his age for the DEC’s records.
“It’s unfortunate that bears sometimes get a bad habit of breaking into structures, and we don’t always trap them,” added McConnell. “It’s a popular myth that the DEC always relocates bears. Bears are like pigeons, they have a homing ability. I think of it this way. If someone took you from your home, would you want to come back? After trapping we didn’t relocate this guy. Hopefully the negative experience of being trapped, drugged, and handled will keep him from doing more of this kind of thing.”
NYLON is the New York Local Online News section of the GeneseeSun.com, dedicated to uniting communities outside of Livingston County.
PHOTO CAPTION: (Photos/Jeb McConnell)
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