Tag Archives: black bear

Hey! The Feeder is Empty… and Broken.

Before daylight this morning I was awake. Not that I am an early riser. I hadn’t been asleep. It was just one of those nights. I’m not sure what drew my attention to the window, but out by the pond was a large black shape that I was sure hadn’t been there the night before. Family members often go up to the pond just to sit and look out at the water. It was probably just a lawn chair, I decided. Then the lawn chair began to move. I watched for a few moments, then raced upstairs to shake my sleeping husband.

“Wake up!” I commanded, “There’s a bear cub in the back yard!”

Of course, by the time I drug the poor groggy man downstairs and to the window there was nothing to see in the darkness but darkness, but dawn brought another sight.

This little lady was perched on the lilac bush with her beak almost against the window. As she peered into the human world inside, her loud “Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!” announced that all was not well, and she wanted her people to know about it! The feeding shelf had been licked completely clean and was hanging precariously by a mere corner. It looks like it’s time to change the location of the feeding station for the summer.

(I’m not sure if I have the birds and squirrels trained, or if they have trained me. If that feeder is empty they always find a way to tell me about it. )





Filed under Wildlife

A Bear in the Dark

Our local bear is definitely back. His huge paws have repeatedly dug up the soil by the opening in our back fence. He’s raided garbage cans the entire way down our street, and even knocked over the dumpster of the local nursing home. He’s grown since last year. One of the nursing home residents, who had the pleasure of watching him rummage through that dumpster, insists that our bear weighs in at a hefty, six hundred pounds. A famous naturalist once said, “A bear a long distance from a scale always weighs more.” However, considering that male, black bears in the Northeast often exceed eight hundred pounds, the estimate of six hundred doesn’t seem unreasonable.

A few people have seen him. Most of us have picked up after him, but other than our still jittery neighbor that almost walked into him last summer, the rest of us just accept his presence with a casual shrug and use him as a conversation starter. In our neighborhood, nothing will inspire a friendly conversation quicker than detailing your latest attempts to keep your trash bags on the curb and in tact until the garbage truck arrives at 7:15. We are perfecting our systems: some successful, some not so. It appears that Blackie loves the smell of Lysol, and despises the stench of dirty, kitty litter. Who knew?

Other than being a temporary inconvenience however, our black bear and his crime fighting abilities seem to be a welcome addition to our community. Hoodlums and troublemakers don’t creep around our houses when darkness falls, because the night belongs to Blackie.

Unfortunately, and we should have known this was coming, we don’t always return home before darkness falls. Tonight was one of those nights, and as I sit in my living room listening to the occasional rumbling utterances of our seasonal security guard, I thought I would share the experience of the now jittery people that live in my household.

My husband and I and two of our grown children had been to visit my parents this afternoon. It had been a quiet time of friendly discussion, reminiscing of the past, thinking about the future, and sharing strawberry shortcake, made from berries grown in my own patch. Unwilling to leave my parent’s company, the four of us lingered far later than we had planned. When the clock’s hands traveled past eleven, we realized it was time to start the long journey home.

Only a few stars lit the sky as we stumbled out of the Jeep into our driveway. Visibility in the hollow is often difficult. Streetlights are a commodity we country people have decided to live without.

We were a few feet from the house when the loud bellow of a very large, irritated beast stopped us in our tracks. What followed was total pandemonium.

“What in the world was that?” someone muttered, as everyone’s eyes peered into the darkness to see vague, undefined shapes. Was there actually a bush that close to the bridge? Were the shadows really moving?

“Was that the bear?” someone gasped, “It was the bear wasn’t it?”

A deep threatening bellow echoed from the darkness directly in front of us.

“Oh no, that was the bear!”

“That was close, where is he?”

“I can’t see anything, but he’s not far away, and he’s yelling at us!”

“He’s really close. I can hear him. We gotta get inside!”

“Someone’s got the keys, right?”

“Who’s got the keys?”
I fondled the zipper on my purse, but gave it no further thought. We would all be dead before I found my keys at the bottom of that mess. Surely, someone else had the frame of mind to take out his or her keys as we pulled into the driveway!

“Someone hurry up and open the stinking door! Where is that bear?”

“I think he’s on the other side of the creek!” my son decided.

This wouldn’t have seemed like such a problem had the creek been more than forty feet away, but a black bear can run 35 miles or a total of 184,800 feet per hour, or 3,080 feet per minute. That translates out to 51.33 feet per second. It takes three people, fumbling with multiple sets of keys at least five seconds to figure out which key on their rings doesn’t belong to a house we lived in twenty years ago, and another fifteen seconds of stumbling over each other to determine which panicked, misguided soul was responsible enough to insert their key into the lock.

“Come on, guys, make lots of noise! You’re supposed to make lots of noise!” my daughter yelled.

We were already making enough noise to wake up our neighborhood — and the next — and perhaps the dead in the cemetery on top of the hill.

During the later half of this chaos, hubby, whose vision isn’t the best in the daylight, was fumbling with one key after another.

“Not that key,” he muttered.

“Hurry up!” I gasped. “We’ve got to get in the house.”

“You’ve always said that you want to get a look at him,” my man grumbled as he finally inserted the proper key into the lock.

“Not while standing in the dark holding a half gallon of ice cream!” I howled back. “He’s gonna take me first!”

This saga ended, with my family rushing into the safety of our sturdy, old home and me slamming the door behind us.

Did we see the bear? Of course not. With flashlights in hand, we hung out the upstairs windows and scanned the forest for five minutes after our adventure, and never caught a glimpse of the animal that was scolding us from the darkness. We felt like a bunch of (jittery) kids running from a shadow, but a six-hundred-pound bear casts a very ominous shadow!

Next week the neighborhood conversation starter will be: “Hey, did you hear about family that lives on the end of the street? They got chased into their house by the bear on Monday night.” and the most common reply will be: “So that’s what all that noise was about.”

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More information about our bear and black bears in general


Filed under Sue's Corner, Wildlife

Save Money, Get a Guard Bear??

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.





Filed under Sue's Corner, Wildlife