Bear, Bare, Bear, Not The Same!

To say the least, the English language is very interesting!! Let’s just take one word, actually two words that sound the same but mean three different things. That word is “bear.”

Does everyone have a story about this powerful presence, the Pennsylvania black bear? I don’t know about you, but I do! They say that our area has been a home to black bears since before the earliest settlers arrived. Somehow, the fact that they were here first,

Look just like the one that visits my house.

Look just like the one that visits my house.

doesn’t help much when that “presence” decides to visit my house. So, I am going to “bare” (expose) my thoughts about this creature who lives among us.

I’m quite sure we are past the time when a bear is most likely to visit here, this spring. Why? Usually their visits occur during April, right after they awake from hibernation.

Twelve years ago, on April 13, a bear knocked over my bird feeders, climbed up the two steps to our sliding, glass doors and left his claws’ mark in the screen. I wondered if the game commission would be interested to hear that this wild beast was traversing in a

Everyone says bears are unpredictable.

Everyone says bears are unpredictable.

residential area? So, I called them. “Does the game commission take any steps to deter bears roaming near our homes?” I asked. (I remembered, years ago, when the commission trapped a bear near us. He had been ravaging a resident’s bee hives.) My inquiry was given a rather abrupt, non-friendly answer, “Not if you’re feeding them.” In other words, it was my fault. I wanted to say I was feeding the birds, not the bears, but I didn’t.

One of these visits was announced by a noise outside and we grabbed our cameras in time to run out on our porch and sure enough, he was there, again,  by the bird feeders. Giving me a nudge, my husband thought I should step off the porch for a better shot. I thought differently!! Another incident was the evening, just

Don't try training one, unless you know what you're doing.

Don’t try training one, unless you know what you’re doing.

before dark, when I walked out on our driveway. New neighbors had just moved in, and their dog decided to check out our driveway, too. He was huge! It wasn’t until later that I knew that was not a dog.

Once, three of our grandsons, were here visiting at our house. The night before their arrival, a bear had made his appearance known. We, my daughter, her three small sons and myself decided to wait inside, in the

Picnic anyone? That included this brown bear.

Picnic anyone? That included this brown bear.

dark, by the sliding doors. Of course we couldn’t make any noise, we just hunkered in while stretched out on the floor. The bear didn’t show and all three boys fell asleep, flashlights by their sides.

April 22, 2005, and the bruin made another appearance. This time he must have rubbed against the window of the siding door. I had a cleaning job to do.That meant he was upright. They are three feet high when on all fours and five to seven feet tall when standing.

My husband says I shouldn’t put out seed this time of the year. “Birds don’t need to be fed in the summer.” And, he is right! But I get so much enjoyment from watching them. (So does he!)

I recently read an article about the extensive damage bears create at hunting cabins, in Alaska. The woman tells how she and her husband leave their cabin for

There's no shortage of bears in Alaska or Pennsylvania.

There’s no shortage of bears in Alaska or Pennsylvania.

months at a time to go to a fishing camp. Before leaving, she has learned to take many precautions, like thoroughly cleaning the interior with bleach, leaving no food, and what she thinks works the best is to place cans of moth balls outside of the cabin.

Just maybe, our black bruin will live out his life time. The problem is that bears can live twenty-five years in the wild and there’s plenty more to replace them. Population in Pennsylvania ranges from 8,000 to 10,000.

I may be getting just a bit smarter. I wait longer to begin to feed the birds. I guess I’ve learned to “bear” (endure) up under these circumstances. Last year though, with one big sweep of his paw he bent the heavy pipe supporting the feeder and it took three men to push it back up.  Imagine this: the woman from Alaska says she loves bears and has an urge to cuddle with one. Of

They look harmless, but ....

They look harmless, but ….

course, she knows better!! As for me, I’ve seen enough to know they are dangerous and deserve my respect and fear. I was lucky, I had no bear this year and I hope I won’t get “beared” next year either. 


10 thoughts on “Bear, Bare, Bear, Not The Same!

  1. Hi Shirley, We have bears here in NJ, where I live, too. In fact, no one had seen one in a long time…and then I saw one about 6 years ago; and they have been spotted by others since that time. Thankfully our bears seem to stay in the woods. There have been no reports of bears wondering into yards or raiding bird feeders. This is actually the best time of the year to feed the birds. The birds are in their most beautiful plumage, and they also bring their young to the feeders, once they have fledged. My bird feeders remain filled all season long! In the spring, I put out several hummingbird feeders and these birds come to feed and visit, too. (I couldn’t “bear” to not put out my bird feeders… resulting in perhaps having a yard that is “bare” of birds). If that were the case, than I might just have to “bare” arms and chase off the offending “bear”. LOL Bird watching is certainly a passion for me.


    • I laughed when I read your response to the new shirlandyou, Colleen. You truly caught the spirit of my writing. I know you have a heart for wild life and especially birds, as I do. So let’s just keep on feeding them.


  2. Hi Shirl,
    Enjoyed your bear story. We also have had bears here in Mehoopany. Infact we had one get into our garbage just last week. I always know its a bear in the garbage because they will take the garbage bag out of the can and drag it into the back yard then rip it apart…needless to say, a real mess to clean up. Over the years I have learned to take my bird feeders down. One year I had one of those feeders that suction cups to the window, and I actually heard the bears claws hit the window as he removed it to eat the seed. We have also had a shepherds hook that held the bird feeders which the bear bent in half one year. My neighbor has named our resident bear Bruno. I saw Bruno crossing the field in front of my house once, he is huge!
    Shirl, can you send me the web address for the organ that you and your husband were telling me about, would love to see the carving that he did, thank you.
    Always enjoy your blog!


    • What a delight to hear from you, Suzy. Since you are surrounded by mountains, it doesn’t surprise me that there are bears in Mehoopany. So yours visits your porch, then has a picnic in the back yard. They are smart, but can be pests. Hope everyone gets to see the beautiful carving you do. My husband is definitely an amateur.


  3. Hi Shirl, Pat and I have had numerous encounters with black bears while camping at Hickory Run State Park. The worst was when I left the kids’ koolaid jug on the picnic table in our brand new screenhouse which was zipped shut. This was a mama bear and her half-grown cub. She proceeded to pull on the screenhouse and tip it over while leaving several claw marks in the mesh and her and the cub thoroughly enjoyed trying to get into the koolaid but failed. However, they did a job on the two cups Kevin and Erin had been drinking out of that weren’t rinsed out yet. We left them be as nothing we yelled from our tent even phased them, but Erin was sleeping in her own tent that night and awoke and I had to use my sternest voice to be sure she didn’t try to come to us so the bears would leave her alone. Took her a while before she’d sleep alone in a tent again! LOL! Kevin also was in his own tent but slept through the whole thing! I manage to sew patches on our screenhouse and we were able to use it for quite a while afterwards. Oh yes, and poor Kevin got up the next morning and retrieved his cup and the koolaid and had a drink while the rest of us cracked up. When he asked what was so funny, Pat told him he had “kissed a bear”! When he finally learned we were telling the truth about the bears, he took his toothbrush and toothpaste up to the bathroom building and was gone brushing his teeth for 20 minutes or so. He may shoot me for telling this! LOL!

    Kathy (Gibson)


    • What a story!! I hope you’re still alive for having told it. 🙂 When camping it’s truly difficult to get everything stashed away that bears may take a liking to. Thanks for sharing your story.


  4. My first encounter with seeing a black bear was in the woods on Callender Rd. while walking by myself as a child 8 or so years old. I was terrified and I believe that is when I learned the art of running. Have seen bear prints on our property where I live now but haven’t seen them…this particular bear was caught in a town 10 miles south of where I live Then released. Saw a mama and her two cubs climb a tree to a birdfeeder at the Mt. house only a few feet away…another time at the same house the bear had scratched the sliding screen door because there was NO food in the feeder. I see from reading other comments that I’m not the only one that gives names to my outdoor critters….!! About the English language…I’ve heard it said it is the most confusing to learn because we have so many words that sound the same (with different meanings and pronunciation)…example…buffet (buffit or boo-faa) or our sayings…fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing. Found a website for you to checkout…Oddites of English.


    • You are always so helpful in making shirlandyou interesting, Karen. Thanks for the info on the English language. Seeing a bear at age eight, when out alone, had to be frightening. And it was in Sweet Valley, one of the bears’ favorite homes, I think!!


  5. You sure have had a time with bears! Of course since we didn’t see one even though we waited quietly for HOURS, maybe you are just making it up!! lol. But I did see the paw prints. So, I guess I’ll believe you.


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