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Today's Post:   Bearing Bears

    We live on a large lot purchased 55 years ago. Back then we could only see two houses across the street. North and west of us stretched pristine forest land dotted with beaver built ponds. A variety of wild animals occasionally visited us, venturing tentatively from their civilization to ours. None seemed dangerous and deer in particular charmed us with their beauty, curiosity and antics.

    Houses gradually increased in number to the south and east of us, although the area remained rural in nature. Then the area north of us was transformed into high density housing. Gone were the beavers, racoons, and many of the deer and birds. Thankfully, a few deer still show up from time to time. Somewhere along the line a few pet rabbets were abandoned and we now have an oscillating population of them. Oscillating because they have become a mainstay of the coyotes that adapted readily to the transformation. It sometimes seems like they farm the rabbets, coming through periodically to harvest them, always leaving a few to breed a new crop.

    Coyotes are only one of the predators that adjust readily to a changing food supply. A lone bobcat struts through fairly regularly. Black bears are now common here, delighting in the apples, wild berries, and human garbage. They may have been here previously but if so, we never saw them. They studiously ignore human contact, preferring to walk on by rather than deal with us. In fact, I once watched a large bear pass behind an electrician working on our solar panels, no more than six feet from him. When I asked him if he noticed the bear go by, he said, “What bear?” I described it. He spent the rest of the day with his head swiveling back and forth.

    A few years ago, a bear showed up with twin cubs which were fun to watch. Later, one of the cubs was hit by a car and showed up the following year with a pronounced limp. Our neighbor across the street has had a number of interactions with them. Once he looked up from his desk in a ground level office to see one nose to window staring at him. Last year, he heard a noise on a second level deck. Thinking it was a racoon, he climbed the steps to the deck only to discover a bear with cubs eating lard from a bird feeder she had torn down. He quickly retreated.

    This year, three year-old cubs have been coming through without their mother. We once saw one of them standing at a window near the front door, staring in, perhaps hoping for a handout. Recently, they paraded across our deck, inches from the sliding door and not many more inches from where my wife was standing inside the door. As you can see from the photo, we caught them on our video camera.

    These interactions are bearable, though they warrant careful attention by families with small children. So what is unbearable? An apple tree in our new orchard produced fruit for the first time. Last year it was laden with apples which we watched ripen with anticipation. When the day arrived to pick them, I was one day late. A bear had walked through the flimsy deer fence, eaten every apple, and broke the tree off at its graft point, completely destroying it. Unbearable! This year I’m adding a barbed wire bear fence on the outside as shown in the second photo. It better work since we have some pears and a great crop of plums coming this year.

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A new story is now posted. Perhaps not really a story since there is no plot, just a theme.

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