Local and State Police Departments---If a bear is sighted in town, advise callers to leave the animal alone. Remind pet owners to keep their dogs under control. Keep crowds away and avoid following the animal. Pursuit not only stresses the animal but it adds the risk of having a bear chased out into traffic or into a group of bystanders. In most situations, the animal will fade back into the forest.
If your situation involves a bear in a densely populated area, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1/800-632-8075 (24 hours) or the nearest MassWildlife office on week days during business hours to activate the Large Animal Response Team. Team members will be paged through the Radio Room and will contact your department to assess the situation.
To ensure public safety and the welfare of large mammals such as bears, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) and the Environmental Police formed an interagency Large Animal Response Team (LART) to respond to situations where large animals are reported in densely human-populated areas. The team members consist of DFW biologists and Environmental Police Officers with specific training in chemical immobilization of large animals.
Decisions on appropriate response in these situations are governed by a standard protocol. DFW biologists respond to bear situation during weekdays often times with assistance from the Environmental Police. On weekends, holidays and non-business hours, the Environmental Police respond.
Municipalities and other law enforcement agencies can activate this team by calling the 24-hour Environmental Police Radio Room at 1/800-632-8075 or calling the closest Division of Fisheries & Wildlife offices during business hours.
Depending on the situation, members of the team will provide anything from technical advice to responding to the scene. If it's determined the LAR Team needs to be at the scene, members will be paged and they will coordinate efforts with local/state police, animal control officers, MassHighways and local public works departments to ensure safety for the public as well as the animal involved.
There are 4 options available to wildlife professionals when dealing with suburban or urban bear situations.
- Keeping tabs on the animal from a distance is often all that is needed to allow the bear to move on. Usually the job becomes more public relations than public safety as officers try to keep people away from the bear.
- Trying to encourage the bear to go in a specific direction by using hazing techniques.
- If the animal is either trapped or becomes confined to tree, chemical immobilants may be used if the situation warrants this action. Trained staff from MassWildlife and/or the Environmental Police will be present to decide on whether to exercise this option. Weather, location, and other factors are considered when making this decision.
- The last resort, when an immediate threat to public safety exists or immobilization is not possible, is to destroy the bear with a firearm. This option is rarely implemented and the staff person from MassWildlife and/or the Environmental Police Officer in charge of the scene makes the decision based on the specific situation and the protocol.
Although some people may be concerned about bears destroying bird feeders, getting into trash, eating chickens, and destroying beehives, these are normal activities for any wild animal that readily takes advantage of easily obtained food. The Large Animal Response Team will not move or relocate a bear simply for engaging in these activities
Frequently Asked Questions on black bear problems and control.
Coexisting with Black Bears Find guidelines for the prevention and management of bear damage.
For additional information and advice on black bear management, problems, and damage control strategies in Massachusetts, contact your local MassWildlife District office.