Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bear Necessities

Talk about your true Vermont experience - we’ve been having bear visits at our house, and I view it with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s kind of cool seeing a real black bear from twenty feet away, their such cool animals, and how often do you get to be so close? On the other hand, their rather menacing, and in certain situations, downright dangerous. I worry about one of us, especially the kids, playing in the woods and happening upon one. I know they’re scared of people, and for the most part don’t pose a threat, but even still, they’re just so big and fast and when threatened, scary.

It all started a couple of days ago when I was coming home from the store in the AM. I thought I saw something big and black by the trash can and figured I was just seeing things, but when I parked the car, I could see something had been in the trash. I cleaned it up and went about my business. Later in the morning, however, I went out to the backyard and something stirred in the woods. Sure enough, it was the bear ransacking our compost. He managed to pry the lid off and was chowing down.

I went back inside and told R and the kids, and we all sat back and watched him. It was like watching TV, it was so cool. Now being a city-boy flatlander and all, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I called the town center and they sort of implied it was no big deal and that maybe I should just get over it. I also contacted the game warden, and they said it shouldn’t be a problem and they can only act if actual property has been damaged.

Sensing that there wasn’t much I could do, I contacted our resident nature biologist expert, MH, who has written an amazing book on nature in New England. The minute I told her, she said she’d be right over to take some pictures. By the time she got there, the bear had ripped the lid off of our other compost container (it has a locking lid)was looking for dessert. She snapped a few pics, but the minute the bear noticed her, he took off like a bolt of lightning. Pretty impressive runners, those bears. I’d read that they can run faster than a horse, which is incredible when you think about it.

MH came inside and thanked us and said she didn’t think we had anything to worry about, even the kids, and we thanked her in return. If there’s anyone who knows their nature, it’s MH, so I for one felt better. Of course, the story doesn’t end there. We had the market that day, so we left around noon and took care of business. When we got home in the evening, guess who had come back and rifled through our garbage?

You guessed it. The driveway was a mess, with trash everywhere, not to mention cat litter and pistachio shells all over the place. Since we have a gravel/dirt driveway, it’s impossible to sweep the stuff up. Total bummer. I was supposed to do after market clean up, which is always a chore, but now I had to clean up the garbage mess, as well. Needless to say, I was not feeling so warm and fuzzy towards the bear.

I managed to get everything done, and as I was cleaning the trash, I couldn’t help but think the bear was watching me. R said we should keep the trash in the barn for now, which is a good idea. I don’t mind if the bear eats our compost or trash, but it does make a mess, and I don’t want to encourage him to hang out at our house. For now, I put a cinder blocks on the lids, and that seems to have worked.

Boy, you just can’t beat life in the great outdoors. Never a dull moment.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Little Bears Shenandoah for the pic.

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