Caged animals are dangerous, wildlife experts say
By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writers
October 06, 2009
While the circumstances that caused a black bear to fatally maul a Saylorsburg woman Sunday aren’t yet known, one thing is clear: Caged animals are dangerous and, if you’re not careful, can kill.
“Black bears are generally not that vicious, but it really wouldn’t take much for a 350-pound bear,” said Kathy Uhler, who runs the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.
“I wouldn’t keep a bear in that small an enclosure. When you go in to clean the cage, there’s no place for the bear to go. When I clean the bobcat cage, there’s room for him to go somewhere. If she Kelly Ann Walz) smelled like food or decided to clean before feeding, all it takes is one swipe,” she said.
Uhler said bears use a couple of threatening behaviors as defense mechanisms.
“Bears do a lot on correcting. They’ll take a swipe at a person to correct them. It’s a very large, dangerous animal,” she said.
Although Uhler’s education center doesn’t deal with bears, it has seen several cubs, including one released after it was nursed back to health a couple of years ago.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of cubs. They’ve definitely done bluff-runs at me. They kind of jump at you and stop. It scares a lot of things away without having to do something,” she said.
Like in the movies, Uhler said she throws some food to the bobcat when she cleans his cage “… so he’s happy. He doesn’t care that I’m in the cage.”
Uhler said the education center has different permitting requirements as does an exotic animal owner. She was required to do internships at various facilities before being licensed by the state.
“The game commission wants to make sure we are as safe as possible for these permits,” Uhler said