Bear(s) in My Backyard

A couple of nights ago, at around 2:30AM, my normally quiet labrador retriever started going absolutely ape-shit in the backyard. We live on the edge of the woods, so we frequently get raccoons and other nuisances trying to get into the garage to steal cat food, but this bark was different. This bark was more on the frantic side and instantly got me out of bed.

I poked my head out the door and saw my lab bouncing around the base of a large ponderosa pine, her head tilted up barking like a damned hound dog.

I called to her and she bounced over to me panting and obviously very pleased with herself. I shined my light up into the tree expecting to see the glowing eyes of a coon.

I saw glowing eyes alright, but they were all wrong. Instead of the eyes being close together and right up against the trunk of the tree, they were far apart and 2 feet from the trunk. It was something much bigger than a raccoon.

I realized it’s black shape was that of a large black bear. It was a third of the way up the tree looking down at dog and man, wondering what we were gonna do.

I turned my flashlight off, said hello to the bear, made sure the garage and all points of entry into potential food sources were closed tight then brought my dog into the house, turned on the porch light and headed back towards the front door. Just before I entered the house I heard the distinctive plop of a large poop hitting the base of the tree. From 30 feet up the plop was rather robust.

My wife and I went to the bathroom which has a window looking into the back yard and hoped to watch the bear descend the tree and come into the glow of the porch light.

As ex-river guides me and my wife have seen countless bears. Mostly they come in for easy food, and don’t care to confront humans. We don’t feel threatened or scared by bears, but they are fun to watch.

The bear stayed in the tree a long time. (S)he would come down a little bit then see the porch light and scamper back up. We could hear him moaning and groaning as he mulled over his predicament. His sounds were hilarious, he sounded like such a distraught beast. We had to stifle our laughs to keep from scaring it more. .

We finally realized he wouldn’t come down unless we turned off the light, so we did. It didn’t take long before we heard it scraping it’s way down. then there was a great thump as he hit the ground and sprinted back into the woods.

In the morning there were huge piles of bear poop at the base of the tree and one massive pile on the trail into the woods. He’d lifted the lid off our compost pile and rummaged a bit; but it was easily repaired.

At the top of the trail he’d also uncovered a nasty hornets nest. It had been in the ground and he must have smelled the grubs or whatever yellow jackets produce, and dug it up.

The hornets were pissed but I was happy he uncoverd and basically destroyed such a nearby colony. Maybe next year the yellow jackets won’t be quite so bad around here.

Life in the country!

UPDATE

The next night the barking and carrying on started again so I went out to help my dog chase the bear away. I could see the bear standing at the base of the ponderosa again, It was a huge black bear. When it saw me it took off into the night. I walked across the driveway to our garage to retrieve my son’s BB gun. I just wanted to shoot it in the butt, give it a sting to dissuade it from returning.

In order to get to the garage I had to walk a foot or two beyond the ponderosa. As I was leaving the garage I heard a noise coming from up in the tree. What the hell? I looked up and saw a bear cub staring down at me. I shone my light into the woods where i’d seen mama bear go and could see her glowing eyes shining back, she wasn’t far away.

I realized that i’d very nearly gotten between mama and her cub when I went to the garage. yikes!! I doubt the BB gun would have slowed her down much.

Leave a Reply