June 6th, 2005

My Uncle Ed deals with nature, and television schedules.

We’ve had several unwelcome visits by a large bear over the past ten days or so. It started with a raid on both the front and back bird feeders. Although I’d thought that I had hung them high enough to foil a bear attack (high enough that I couldn’t reach them, accessed with a pulley arrangement), I was wrong. We heard the noise in the middle of the night, got up and peered out the front window, but didn’t see anything. I looked on the back porch and didn’t see anything, so went back to bed. In the morning we found both feeders completely smashed. I put up new ones and hoped for the best. At 9:30 that night I looked out front and there was the criminal—a large, probably male (as there were no cubs along) black bear. We turned off the inside lights and turned the yard lights for the show. He would saunter off for ten yards or so, then come back, lay down, and work on the bird feed. This was all happening only about 20 feet from the house. We watched for a good twenty minutes and decided it was time to put him to flight. I had been given some large firecrackers by a neighbor for just this purpose, but Francoise was convinced I’d miss the open window and the firecracker would go off in the house. So out came the shotgun, and I put a shot over his head. He took off running, and that was the end of our entertainment for the night. We missed the second half of Desperate Housewives.

But it was not the end of the bear. This past Sunday we were awakened at 12:15 by a noise. Actually, Francoise was awakened. She got up and peered out the blind that is no more than five feet from her side of the bed and found herself looking at the bear. He was right up on our porch! She got me up and we watched him run over toward the bridge, where we lost sight of him. Back in bed, ten minutes later, I thought I heard something out back so I got up to see. I turned on the light and there he was, standing up, trying to figure out where the bird feeder had gone. He was only maybe four feet from me, through the window, and I’d say he was about my height, and maybe 300 pounds. Off he went, without a meal. All this while, our trusty guard dogs were in panic mode. Rusty retreated to the back corner of the armoire, and next, Woman got in with him! The two wimps! Not a bark, a yelp or anything that might protect the homestead! We’ve not seen the bear since, but I’m sure he is in the neighborhood. Well, we know he is. I’d caught a big bluegill and had him in a fish basket, hanging from a hook under the dock at the old pond. That bear figured out that a fish was there, grabbed the basket, hauled it up into the woods, and tore at it until he got the fish out. Nothing is safe, I guess, if it is food.

Later…just noticed big paw prints on sunroom window, just below where we hang a hummingbird feeder. Evidently the bruin was looking to raid the sugar water. We’d not even given it a thought, but Francoise came home with a report from another lady who had recently experienced a bear taking down her hummingbird feeder, unscrewing the bottle from it, and drinking the fluid. Clearly, these bears are more clever than we’d thought. I also noticed this morning when I came in from getting the paper that the bear had removed my minnow bucket from the trout pond. Apparently he couldn’t figure out how to get the minnows out so just left them to die on the bank. What puzzles me about that, though, is that he didn’t smash it to get them out. We try to live with the wildlife, but I think this problem is going to end with a murder of a disorderly bear. Good thing I have the back hoe with which to bury it.

Is he serious about the… elimination? It’s hard to tell, with Ed.

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