Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Yogi or Smokey?

We have a bear problem.

It’s a sudden development. We’ve lived here in our rural home for 13 years and have never seen a bear. The garbage has been sitting outside for 13 years and no bears have ever taken any interest in it.

Many many raccoons have.

To their detriment.

But, unlike raccoons, you are not allowed to just shoot bears and to be honest, we don’t want to, for a variety of reasons.

Not the least being, what do you do with a 200lb dead bear? especially one you are technically not allowed to have shot because bear hunting season is over. And Jeyzus bears are big! You want to be well armed and a good shot if you are going to meet a bear head on like that. And DH isn’t a hunter, he really does not like shooting animals, even the raccoons. He shoot guns for sport. Targets don’t stand a chance around him. Living breathing beings are a different story.

Also unlike raccoons, you can’t trap bears & release them elsewhere. Animal control suggests we lock up our garbage better but lacking a garage there is no place to keep a week’s worth of garbage inside. The garbage is currently locked up in a wood corral with a wood & metal lid that locks shut. It is an effective raccoon deterrent.

Bears laugh at it.

Last night this bear got into the garbage. It apparently dragged one bag of garbage down to the fence line & then dropped it, probably distracted by our dog Athena. Athena is mostly, possibly entirely, a Plott Hound, they are bred to hunt bears and wild boar in the mountains.

We didn’t know this when we rescued her from the shelter last year, we just liked her friendly disposition. Later, when we were trying to deal with her escape artist nature we learned about plott hounds & the bear thing.

She’s gone up against bears 3 times in the past month & chased them away twice & been intimidated away once.

The cats find it amusing to watch. They are unafraid of the bear but then, they don’t bother the bear either, they stay low to the ground & don’t move much when the bear is around.

All the barking last night got DH out of bed to investigate. Initially he went out on the porch and saw nothing but a opened trash bag on the ground next to the bin. Athena came in the house when he went out. She went back out when he came in. She stood in the middle of the yard and barked at the swimming pool, then out from between the pool and the deck emerged this big bear coming at her. She took off running one way and after about 4 steps the bear took off in the other direction.

Dh slammed the door shut as soon as he saw the bear.

So DH is debating his bear dealing options and I am trying to figure out what has changed recently that would account for these sudden bear appearances. There are two bears that we know of, since the one DH saw last night was considerably bigger than the one he saw a few weeks ago. Our wooded area is not large enough or dense enough to house a bear so they are coming across the cow pasture & climbing the barbed wire fence. Given where the one garbage bag was found today & the direction Athena chased the bear a few weeks ago, the bears are coming across the cow pasture land to the north & west of us, not the land east of us (different neighbors own each property). The NW neighbor recently mowed a lot of that pasture but it wasn’t dense woodland or anything. He mows it once a year or so. It’s far to open to be bear friendly living territory.

Our friends 5 miles away reported a bear coming up onto their covered side porch and rolling two garbage cans off it the night before last.

It’s like we’re being terrorized by a bear gang or something.

My kids play outside.

In the woods.

And in the swimming pool.

What happens if we come home from a party late?

Then there are the nights DH is away for work. I already barely sleep due to my fear of homicidal axe wielding maniacs. Now I have to worry about a bear trying to break in one of the sliding glass doors or attacking my dumb enough to attack it first dog.

I’m not liking this bear situation but I am at a loss as to what to do.

The only good note is that the bear might attack the homicidal axe wielding maniac, or at least scare him off.


SciFi Dad said...

Bears, shitty internet, high probability of being snowed in... remind me again why you live there?

Cheri said...

I don't have any solutions to your problem, but bears have been sighted in our neighborhood in the past as well. For the most part, they really aren't interested in humans and will leave if confronted. Still, I wouldn't ever want to be in the position of confronting a bear!

Maria Ontiveros said...

No suggestions for you - but just a note that I admire your writing style in general and especially today! Maybe you can write the bear a note telling it to go away!

Debs14 said...

I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to open your door and be confronted by a bear. The biggest thing I've had in my back garden (apart from the neighbour's cat) is a squirrel! This was a fascinating post.

LizzieMade said...

Leave your outside lights on to deter her from coming too near the house? Maybe these are momma bears, with a cub hiding somewhere, hungry? Could it be that small creatures are a bit rare this year, after the hard winter? They maybe got a slow start on breeding and some maybe died from the cold? So the bears might be hungrier than normal... (for garbage, not Staceys!).
What do the local rangers advise - surely they have a set of safety directions and/or helpful suggestions? After all, it's not as if the bears have suddenly dropped out of the sky - they must have been in your part of the world for centuries, even if they don't usually come near your homes.

Maybe you can find advice on the 'net? And ignore any unhelpful, scare stories - not worth it!

Mel said...

Erk, good luck.... My Dad lived in Alaska for a while. His then-wife's grandson couldn't go to school one day 'because there was a bear on the porch'. I just thought this was the best excuse for missing school EVER and didn't really think about what it must be like to have homicidal axe-wielding bears in the vicinity..... Poor you xx

PS Just been catching up after my holiday. In the UK we call the 'Buy One Get One Free' offers BOGOFs rather than BOGOs. That would help you in the situations when you don't want one: "BOGOF? Bog off!" xx

Comfy Mom said...

Because of the peaceful bucolic nature of course. And DH cannot stand living in developments or other communities that require you to mow the lawn regularly or be fined. We'd owe thousands in fines for the lack of mowing.

And neighbors. We don't like being able to see or be seen by neighbors.

Comfy Mom said...

That is an awesome excuse for missing school

Comfy Mom said...

Unfortunately the local wildlife dept advice is keep your garbage locked up and don't antagonize them. Basically make sure you give them no reason to come by. We have motion sensitive flood lights that come on when the bear shows up in the yard but it doesn't seem to deter it. We haven't seen it for a couple days so we're hoping Athena has been a deterent