Thursday, August 23, 2012

Living With Bears 101

So those of you who read my blog know that recently our house was broken into by a rogue bear. BIG GUY. And according to the Department of Wildlife, this bear was well known by them...yet elusive when it comes to capture.

Our HOA sent out a blanket email to everyone in the neighborhood addressing some serious concerns about bears. I'm paraphrasing, but basically it went like this:  It has come to our attention, blah, blah, blah, that apparently, blah, blah, blah, a bear has been wandering the subdivision and has broken into some sheds and trailers and even a house (that would be us...just SO you know). Let me remind you that no trash receptacles should be out on the street before pick up day, no food should be left outside, and windows should be closed at all times. Just in case you hadn't thought of this before, we live in their domain and must learn to co-exist together in harmony, blah, blah, blah. (Close your eyes and picture Charlie Brown's teacher, who only ever uttered something resembling "Womp, womp, womp womp, womp womp and you'll understand how this letter came across.)

Color me flabbergasted! We take our own garbage three to four times weekly to the dump. We learned the hard way what a bear can do to a trash bin. (And for the record....there is NO SUCH THING as a bear proof can. You heard it first here.)

So my dear hubby fired off an email to the HOA rep who'd even gone so far as to say that "we love bears in our neighborhood. I love seeing them!" (Well, good for you. Move right on in their den with them, won't you?) My husband's response was that even though we live close to the national forest, there is a fine line between being one with the bears and keeping a safe distance from them. Whatever else he said to them, I'm not certain, but it got the desired response.

The Department of Wildlife, herein referred to as DOW, called, then came for a visit to find out about our experience. So this afternoon, the nicest man knocked on our door, and spent a good portion of the afternoon with us, hearing our story, learning our concerns and sharing information that we, and hopefully, you might find informational.

First of all, since this bear has even gone so far as to sleep on our front porch, he LIKES our house and will probably come back at some point. So here's what he told us to do. Make a mixture of 75 per cent water, 25 percent bleach and spray it around problem our case the windows. Run, don't walk to our nearest REI and buy some BEAR SPRAY. And make an unwelcome mat.

What is an unwelcome mat, you ask? You're gonna love this! Take a piece of plywood and hammer in one inch nails. Place the wood under a window (our bedroom, in this case. YUCK!!!!) with pointy side up. Sends a message. DOW likened it to us people walking around on gravel with no shoes. He said it works like a charm!

Also, he said some of my neighbors have gotten into the habit of feeding the deer. And I'm not talking about just a handful of grain or something. I'm talking about buckets full or troughs of grain that are left in their yards for the deer. But guess what, folks! Do you know what bear food is? Yes, you got it! It's anything left around that is edible! The purest definition of BEAR FOOD.

He told a story of a lady in Florissant, just down the road from us who was visiting her sister. Her sister was one of these "bucket feeders". He said one day while she was here, her sister wasn't around and the deer made their usual stop by the house, so she picked up the bucket and headed out to feed the deer. A big old buck attacked her, again and again with his rack and sharp hooves. This happened about half a block from the volunteer fire station and one of the firemen on duty saw what was happening, so he ran and when he was close enough he threw rocks and yelled until the buck ran away. While the fireman was helping the woman up, the buck came back and began to attack her again. So the fireman shot the buck for aggressive behavior.

I realize the topic is bears today, but feeding the deer is also a problem with regards to the bears. Bears and mountain lions (which we have both in our neighborhood right now) watch deer activity and where they are, predators are not far behind...especially in times of drought. The usual foods they look for are not as readily available so they come looking for what we can offer them.

So bears are not cute little touristy things to look for when you visit a forest. They are a predators. They are not pets; they are not our friends.

Now, I realize some of you are reading this and thinking, "well, duh!" Yeah, me too. But seriously, there are people who believe them to be their friends, their pets. But here's the thing about bears: give them an inch...they'll take a mile. THEY TAKE WHAT THEY WANT...and never ask questions later.

So the next time you're out hiking, or at Yosemite, or, in my neighborhood, and you see a big old black bear lumbering around, he ain't YOGI and he ain't SMOKEY.  He probably won't bother you, but, just to be on the safe side....don't stick around to find out!

No comments: