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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.