I drug myself out of bed last Saturday morning and started my morning routine. It goes something like this: Get dressed, take medication, feed and water cats, fill seed scoop, open window, fill bird fee… That is where my organized morning stopped. Fill what bird feeder? It was gone. Ripped from the side of the house! I put the scoop aside and leaned out the window. The pieces of my once beautiful bird feeder lay on the ground beneath the lilac bush, and just a little ways beyond the house, in the soft soil I had used to fill a rut in the yard, was the first of this season’s bear tracks! Perhaps Punxatauny Phil that great groundhog prognosticator predicts when spring will arrive, but this huge, smelly, black bear announces spring’s arrival.
Some would say that having a large bear living close by would be a bad thing, but other than announcing the arrival of spring, Blacky will perform another service for us during the summer months, and that is to provide our neighborhood with a little more security. How could a large, black bear make a neighborhood more secure you ask? Picture this:
A gust of warm wind drew fresh pollen from the flowerbed of the white house on the corner and wound it through the hickory trees and small bushes at the edges of the forest creating tiny whirlwinds of romantic fragrance enjoyed only by the creatures of the night. Aided by the breeze, leaves and branches sounded off in a cacophony of rustles, taps, and rattles. The evening insects sang out in chorus as in the distance a screech owl called out to his mate, his voice an eerie addition to the symphony of the wind.
With their footsteps disguised by the music of nature, the two, darkly clad, young men carefully picked their way through the brush along the forest line. Though they had tread this path often, the forest was in a constant state of change, and neither young man considered turning on the flashlights they carried. Invisibility was their most precious tool. The people of this sleepy, little village could not fight what they could not see.
Using the wind to their advantage, the young men crept from house to house, quietly checking for valuables left in cars and on porches or looking for windows and doors left unlocked by forgetful owners. The pickings had gotten a little slim lately. The people of this tiny hamlet had been robbed so often that they had become extremely cautious. The two, young thieves had found it necessary to become far more inventive. Desperate to obtain the money they needed to maintain their lifestyle they had started slashing screens, prying open basement and garage windows, and breaking glass, but to do such things undetected, they needed the wind as their ally.
An elderly woman lived in the house the two had marked for this night. They had been watching her for several evenings. Her movements were slow. Her hearing and eyesight were poor. If the wind continued to blow, they could break the glass on the backdoor, get in, take anything of value that they could carry, then leave without even causing her to stir from her sleep
The door of the enclosed, back porch was hanging open, and the two, young men exchanged amused glances. It seemed that the woman was forgetful as well as elderly. This was going to be easy. Slinking their way onto the back porch, the two immediately noticed a musty, rancid almost overpowering odor. A loud crash drew their attention to the far end of the porch where a large, bulky shadow grunted and huffed, then slowly grew in size until it towered over them. Practically tripping over his companion one of the thieves turned about.
“Run!” he screamed.
Now because a black bear is basically a giant Chihuahua at heart, we know that Blacky will not be able to resist the thrill of the chase. If things work out as we imagine, by the time this parade of predator and prey reaches the highway in front of our houses, the entire neighborhood will be awake. We will stand on our porches laughing, waving, and cheering the bear on. “Blacky, Blacky, he’s our bear. He’s gonna eat you, and we don’t care.”
Oh yeah, and one of us will fire a couple of shots in the air to frighten the bear off, because actually, we do care. We don’t want to see our young burglars hurt, but after months of them sneaking around our properties, breaking into our houses, and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, our neighborhood is really aching for a little payback.
Blacky, please, just chase them down the road for a couple of hundred yards. Make them wet their pants, and teach them to be afraid of the dark. That’s all we ask. No blood, no injuries, just one good, healthy scare. There’s a hero in you Blacky, a hero just waiting for a task far greater than spreading a bag of garbage from Delaware to Maine. Save us money, frustration, and sleepless nights. Please, Blacky, be our Guard Bear.
Very Important Things to Remember:
Though we make light of Blacky’s presence, black bears are extremely dangerous and very destructive.
1. Keep your distance. If there is a black bear in your yard, stay indoors, even if he seems friendly.
2. If you see a bear in a tree, don’t call attention to him. Just walk away and leave him alone. Encourage others to do the same. The bear will come down after nightfall and go on his way. (You would be surprised how many foolish people will throw things at a bear resting in a tree.)
3. Never get between a black bear and her cubs. It’s a sure way to get mauled.
4. Never make eye contact with a black bear. He sees it as a challenge.
5. Keep your compost pile as far away from your house as possible.
6. Leave your birdfeeders run completely empty at night or take them inside. Some suggest feeding birds only in the wintertime.
7. If you don’t want to attract a black bear (or if you don’t want to clean up one horrible mess), keep your garbage in your basement or garage until time to put it out for the truck.
8. Don’t feed the black bears. Believe me, you don’t want them to see you as a food source. They will not only make a nuisance of themselves, but the more encounters there are, the more chances there are of injury.
9. If you have to come home after dark, and you suspect that a black bear might be in the area, make a lot of noise so that the bear is aware of your presence. (Whistle, sing, ect.) A startled bear is a dangerous bear.
10. If a bear confronts you, back away slowly. Never, Never run.
11. Playing dead does not work with a black bear. If attacked, fight back with anything that’s handy.
12. If you have food and a bear wants it. Drop the food and get to safety. (Remember, don’t run. Back away.)
For more information about black bears and how you can keep your family and the bears safe, check out these sites.