New interactive map reveals all black bear sightings statewide

NORWELL, Mass. — Black bears have been spotted all over Eastern Massachusetts in communities like Norwell and Franklin where these sightings are not common.

It turns out these sporadic sightings are not just anecdotal. A new interactive map of Massachusetts bear sightings gives you can idea.

MassBears, a collaborative with Amherst College, UMass Amherst, Mass Wildlife and the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, is tracking bear sightings and has produced a new interactive map.

It can be eye opening. Dave Wattles is the black bear biologist for the State Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

He says, up to 5,000 black bears live in Massachusetts, and the population is only growing. He adds, the map only reveals human interactions with bear, and not where they actually live.

“A high cluster of sightings could simply be a bunch of folks that are actively using the map. And a blank spot on the map could simply be no one is reporting the bears that do live there.” Wattles says.

Centuries of development have pushed the black bear population further and further west. But recent wildlife management strategies seem to be working, as the population of bear and other wildlife is rebounding.

All of it means, that we are more likely to see black bear near our homes.

So, people have to learn live with bears, and the best way to do that, is to keep food and unattended pets, out of our yards.

“The reason that bears, coyotes, some of these other wild animals are in our backyard is to take advantage of all the human associated foods that we have. If we remove those foods, we remove the main attractant to those animals to come around our yards,” Wattle said.

MassBears is building a database of bear sightings in Massachusetts. The goal is to get a more accurate picture of the Massachusetts bear population.

To learn more about MassBears and to report a sighting click here.

AND always remember to respect the bears, from a distance.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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