Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (2023)

InLifestyle, Lifestyle - Greenville, The Greenville Pioneer

February 2, 2023

By Thomas Christopher

For Capital Region Independent Media

Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (1)

If you think this past fall was notable for the number of encounters with black bears, said Laura Simon, you are right.

An urban wildlife ecologist who completed a master’s degree at the Yale University School of the Environment, Simon has made a career of defusing human/wildlife confrontations, as well as serving for 30 years as the president of the Connecticut Wildlife Rehabilitators Association. Given this, Simon has a professional interest in keeping track of where our black bears are spending their time.

This past fall, Simon noted, bears explored beyond their normal woodland range.

There is a natural cycle to the wild berry, nut, and acorn crops, she explains, and 2022 marked a low. Bears, as they prepare for their wintertime retreat to a den, need to pack on the weight, about three pounds per day, through the fall, which requires the consumption of a whopping 20,000 calories per day. If the abundance of natural foods is poor, the bears know where to turn.

In the suburban yards they will find bird feeders full of nutritious seeds, poorly secured food garbage, and even high-calorie foods such as meat scraps and dairy laid out in compost heaps.

The popularity of backyard chickens provides bears with another convenient food source, as do beehives.

And once a bear has tasted these riches, it will be back, Simon said. Indeed, mother bears that have become habituated to human-provided foods will even teach their cubs to forage for them.

The result can be frightening for human residents but are almost always far more serious for the bears, which will likely end up being identified as a threat and euthanized.

That’s what happened in October when a male black bear attacked a 10-year-old boy in northwest Connecticut. This has prompted calls for a bear-hunting season in Connecticut, something that, according to Simon, is unlikely to reduce the number of confrontations between humans and bears. Bear hunting is typically confined to forested areas where the resident bears are unaccustomed to people and do not pose a serious threat.

The problem bears are those that have already infiltrated the outskirts of populated areas, where hunting is not practical. In this sense, bear hunting is really just recreational, and to present it as a precaution against encounters with problem bears is misleading.

Instead, Simon directs people concerned about black bear encounters to the website of the Get Bear Smart Society ( Starting with the fact that most problems with black bears originate in human behaviors, this group sponsors education not only in the basics of bear biology but also in the simple and easy ways in which a community can make itself less attractive to bears, such as promoting the use of bear-resistant garbage receptacles.

I was particularly interested by the information about bear behavior, which will help me read a bear and respond appropriately when I do encounter one, and the stories of communities that have put in place successful programs to promote peaceful coexistence.

It is important, Simon said, to keep this situation in perspective. There have been approximately 25 fatal attacks on humans by black bears nationwide over the past 20 years. That’s far less than the number of fatal attacks by dogs (an average of 33 per year) or even fatalities from lightning or eating tainted hamburgers.

If you are going to worry about wildlife, consider that deer cause an average of 200 human deaths every year by collisions with automobiles.

Treat bears with respect, certainly, is Simon’s message, but don’t panic at the sight of one.

To listen to my conversation with Laura Simon about coexistence with black bears, log onto the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Growing Greener podcast at

Be-a-Better-Gardener is a community service of Berkshire Botanical Garden, located in Stockbridge, Mass. Its mission, to provide knowledge of gardeningand the environment through a diverse range of classes and programs,informs and inspires thousands of students and visitors each year. ThomasChristopher is a volunteer at Berkshire Botanical Garden and is the author orco-author of more than a dozen books, includingNature into ArtandTheGardens of Wave Hill(Timber Press, 2019). He is the 2021 Garden Club of America’s National Medalist for Literature, a distinction reserved to recognize those who have left a profound and lasting impact on issues that are most important to the GCA.Christopher’s companion broadcast to thiscolumn,Growing Greener, streams on, Pacifica Radio and NPR and is available

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Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (2)

Obituary: Deborah A. Cantwell

InObituaries, Obituaries - Greenville, The Greenville Pioneer

January 4, 2023

Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (3)

RAVENA — Deborah A. Cantwell (Canastra), 62, passed away peacefully on Saturday Dec. 31, 2022.

She was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 5, 1960, to the late Richard and Helen Feuerhahn Lang. After being raised on Long Island, the family moved upstate, and for her senior year, she attended and graduated from Middleburgh High School. In 1980, she married the late Timothy Canastra, and together they had three children, whom she raised before going back to school.

Debbie graduated from Columbia-Greene Community College with a degree in nursing, and worked in various nursing homes and hospitals, most recently working for YesCare at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility. She had resided in Oak Hill, Greenville, and after she married Michael F. Cantwell in 2018, they resided in Ravena.

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Debbie was a past president of the Oak Hill Ladies Auxiliary, a volunteer for the Durham Ambulance, and was known in Oak Hill as the neighborhood nurse. She loved cooking and would cook for everyone. She enjoyed swimming and watching gory medical shows. More than anything, she loved being a grandma.

Debbie is survived by her beloved husband, Michael F. Cantwell; her children, Timothy (Sharon Fitzgerald), Michael (Janie Udicious), and Caitlyn Canastra; her granddaughter, Nora Canastra; her siblings, Diane (Dale) Dean, Anson Schuman, Jr., Barbara Ryneir, Harry (Myrna) Schuman, Janet Lang, and Jennifer Franze; and many nieces and nephews.

Debbie’s family would like to thank the nurses and staff on the Hospice Unit in St. Peter’s Hospital for the special care and kindness that was shown to Debbie and her family.

Debbie has been privately cremated. Calling hours will be held on Friday, Jan. 6, from 12-2 p.m. at the A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home, 4898 State Route 81, Greenville, followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Durham Ambulance, P.O. Box 99, East Durham, NY 12423. Condolences can be posted at

Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (4)

Spartans hit the mat in C-A Duals

InSports, Sports - Greenville, The Greenville Pioneer

January 22, 2022

By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media


Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (5)

COXSACKIE — The Greenville Spartans varsity wrestling team took to the mat this weekend in the C-A Duals.

Held at Coxsackie-Athens High School on Friday and Saturday, the two-day competition drew nine schools — Greenville, Coxsackie-Athens, Schuylerville, Columbia, Deposit-Hancock, Catskill, Ichabod Crane, Taconic Hills, Arlington and Lansingburgh.

Coach Pat Cullen said the Spartans have been doing well this season and now sit in third place in the Patroon Conference.

“It’s been a great season,” Cullen said. “There has been a lot of improvement. We are a young team, but the way we are progressing through the season, I am very happy.”

In their first match on Friday against Schuylerville, the Spartans came out on top 54-24. Coming up with victories were Kieran Cullen, Bernard Davis and Eric Heath, all by pin.

The team also defeated Taconic Hills by a score of 54-18, Ichabod Crane by 60-12 and Catskill in a close match by a score of 36-30.

The team fell to Columbia, Coxsackie-Athens and Deposit-Hancock.

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It has been a season of learning, Coach Jared Deluca said.

“I am seeing a lot of growth on the team, especially in their confidence,” Deluca said. “We still have a bit of a ways to go.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant a stop-and-go season for many of the players.

“We had a really rough time with COVID — our team has had two spells of quarantine and we have had some guys that are coming back, but I am glad to see them coming back strong. They are working really hard when they are out there and I like to see that hard work.”

Be A Better Gardener: Co-existing with bears - The UpStater (7)

The varsity team focuses on competing in larger tournaments over the course of the season and will next compete at the Peter Caruso Memorial Tournament in Mahopac on Jan. 29, Cullen said.

“We are looking to get into the high-end competitions and get ready for sectionals,” he said.

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