Wildlife beware, tourism is at the top of the food
chain on Cape Cod.
Maybe he wanted some quality beach time, a chance to cool off in chilly Cape Cod Bay. That thick black coat can get a bit warm, after all. Or maybe he wanted a glimpse of the great white sharks lurking off the Chatham coast. Or maybe he wanted ...
Who knows why a black bear, a male possibly weighing up to 200 pounds, paw-paddled his away across Cape Cod Canal, then made his way down historic Route 6A, passing some of the Cape's nicest architecture along the way. But the young bear's trip may end in Provincetown, the bustling Cape-tip town that's home to numerous bars and restaurants and a tourist magnet. That's where the wandering youngster was spotted Wednesday morning, and officials are now scrambling to remove him before trouble occurs.
State wildlife officials hope to trap or tranquilize the animal and move it to a more suitable spot for black bears — the woods of western Massachusetts.
That's the latest word from those tracking the wayward bear, who was last seen crossing Route 6 in Provincetown on Wednesday morning. As Cape Cod Times staff writer Eric Williams points out, however, "the epic vacation might soon be over for the Cape Cod bear." As tourism season kicks into high gear, Cape Cod officials aren't looking for any additional headaches. The annual inundation of tourists, some of whom now flock to Chatham's South Beach to spy great whites chasing seals just off the beach, and the traffic are already stressful enough. Add in a wandering black bear, and that's an Excedrin headache.
"We want to do what's best for the bear and for the public," Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs spokesman Reginald Zimmerman tells the Times.
MassWildlife officials executed a fruitless search for the bear on Wednesday, but those efforts were expected to resume today. The bear is believed to be the same animal spotted in various South Shore communities in recent months, particularly in sections of Plymouth County. No one could have guessed the animal would wind up in Provincetown, the very end of Cape Cod, after initial sightings in Barnstable and other North Side communities.
The Outer Cape towns of Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown are surrounded by the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the federally protected area's 44,000 acres of pristine habitat would make a nice home for a young bear. After a Truro man claimed he spotted the bear crossing Route 6 in Provincetown on Wednesday, town police confirmed that bear tracks were found near the edge of the roadway.
MassWildlife spokeswoman Marion Larson said research indicates black bears haven't had a presence on Cape Cod since the 18th century. Relocation would involve immobilizing the animal with a drugged dart, then taking it to an area where other bears live, according to officials.