Photo by Penny Dow
Story by Ken DeLaat
A little over a year ago during a rush of bear sightings in our fair county we ran a story with a slew of photos and some DNR guidelines about our furry neighbors. At the time I mentioned that I had never encountered one of these black beauties but had always harbored a desire to do so.
But then this past Tuesday night Hess Lake resident Penny Dow happened to catch an intruder outside her window. Intrigued at what she witnessed she made a quick grab of her phone and snapped the photo that joins this article. It was her first sighting of the lumbering beast and after the departure she took a trip outside (a brave woman) in hopes of finding prints to see if he had come from near the house or garage. The search proved fruitless.
“It was just exciting to see one in my yard,” she said.
And where is the locale of this spotting?
Just down the street from N3 World Headquarters.
And right past where I take my daily walk.
This news gave me a bit of pause about my desire to catch a peek at a bear in the wild. My thought had been to gain an extended look in situations involving vital goalongs like shelter (car, house, helicopter, etc..) and/or distance.
A pretty fair distance since old friend Bruce Rose who spent years at the forest service once explained to me just how fast the big guys (and gals) can be.
Now, granted, my perambulate pursuit generally takes place soon after sunrise and the spotting by Ms. Dow occurred in the latter part of the evening so…
But as I said it gives me a bit of pause.
So I referenced the DNR info we put together for last year’s story (along with a snide comment or two) and decided to repeat the guidelines for my friends and neighbors in case our newest visitor has thoughts of some form of Manifest Destiny to expand personal territory.
Never intentionally feed bears.
And if you need this advice the rest of this guide will likely elude you.
Remove potential food sources, like bird feeders and bird suet, from your yard. Do not feed wild birds in the spring, summer and fall, when bears are most active.
This one hurts for folks who love to keep tabs on their feathered friends year round but seriously if one only feeds in winter most years in this peninsular paradise winter can be close to being nearly year round anyway.
Keep pet food inside or in a secured area.
As well as small pets who might be protective of said food one imagines.
Keep garbage and odor at a minimum by removing trash often and cleaning the can or other container used for garbage. Keep garbage in a secured area or in a secured container with a metal, lockable lid until it is picked up or taken away.
“One man’s trash..” as the saying goes. I imagine after grubbing about for some roots and berries the good fortune of hitting an unprotected pail of what humans toss away food-wise brings a reaction akin to cutting loose a ravenous group of teenage boys on an all -you-can-eat buffet line.
Keep grills and picnic tables clean.
Have you ever camped near folks who didn’t do this in bear country? I have. It doesn’t make for easy sleeping.
Bee hives (apiaries), fruit trees and gardens can be protected from bears by electric fencing.
My hunch is the average bear (not Yogi who is said to be smarter than the average bear) doesn’t have the table manners of Pooh when it comes to honey. Bears have been described many ways but dainty has never been one I’ve seen used thus in quest of honey the hive likely takes a bit of a beating.
Make noise to scare bears out of your yard or around your home: but do not approach bears.
I would definitely make noise...most likely a prepubescent scream while bolting in the direction of any port of safety.
Travel in groups and make noise when hiking to avoid surprising a bear.
Just how big is considered a group? I sometimes am joined in my walk by LSC Lil on the days she isn’t working out with weights but I assume she’s faster than me which plays into the old adage about needing just one person to be slower than you when running from a bear.
Carry bear spray.
The price of bear spray ranges widely but this is likely one of those products you don’t want to go cheap on, right? I mean you might be able to go on the less expensive end when it comes to certain things like paper plates but I can’t imagine feeling good about saving a few bucks when the effect of the spray turns out to be limited to pissing off the beast.
Of course it needs to be considered that maybe the bear was just on a bit of a day trip. Perhaps it had heard about our recent spate of food trucks and wished to scope out the site for a future visit. Or possibly he(she) developed a taste for the catfish that seem plentiful in the lake this year.
But whether our bear turns out to be a regular visitor or his appearance is merely one of those enigmatic occurrences, my walk is sure to take on a whole new undertone.
One rife with apprehension one imagines.
And speaking of bears...
The following quote is from a story called “God’s Own Drunk” written by Lord Taylor and performed by Jimmy Buffet on his album “Living & Dying in ¾ Time”.
It’s a good story, a good song and a worthwhile listen that we highly recommend.
Particularly in light of the appearance of our new friend.
“I was God's own drunk and a fearless man...
“And that's when I first saw the bear.”- Lord Taylor
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