I live in the suburban town of Holden, in Central Massachusetts. Many hundreds of acres of mature woodland areas are being torn down nearby to create new roads and housing developments, and it's getting worse. As a staunch conservationist, this concerns me.
Recently a friend in a nearby city, Worcester, Massachusetts, had a young black bear on her deck. The area is very developed, congested, and there aren't many trees. My friend doesn't have bird feeders, although her neighbors do. Some people are careful with their garbage, but there's plenty around.
The bear didn't do anything aggressive, it just seemed curious. She didn't want it to get hurt so she called animal control to come protect it. Unfortunately, by the time the officer arrived, the bear had wandered off. The officer said he'd try to find, tranquilize and transport it for release at a nearby wildlife habitat area, but he couldn't promise anything. He said there's been a significant increase in bear sightings in her city over the last few years. City animal officers aren't properly equipped to protect them.
In his opinion, the increase is due, at least in large part, to the construction I mentioned. There's enormous decimation of natural habitats of bears and other animals. Ponds and other water sources are being drained, which is devastating for animals and birds.
He said food, shelter and security are no longer available to animals that have inhabited these areas for many years. This has caused bears (and other animals) to venture into areas where they wouldn't necessarily need or want to go in order to find food. The youngsters, such as my friend's visitor, might even be looking for their mother, family members, or other animals who are usually together in the woods.
This is my question: Does it make sense to assume that a significant decrease in their natural habitat would drive more bears into a busy city than would otherwise be there? Is there a causal relationship in this type of situation? Learning about this will help me in my approach to conservation, both personally and politically.