Goldilocks and the three bears

Compared to previous years, it has so far been a summer free of bears here in the valley. Friends visiting have been disappointed to see none on the hour long drive from the foot of the hill down the valley to our community, and I’ve heard of no home or chicken shed invasions since late spring. One theory is that this summer’s forest fires have spooked them all back up the side valleys; if that’s the case, maybe we should organize for a controlled burn every spring!

Not that there haven’t been close encounters. My own was in July, when my dog was more than usually vocal one night. Usually she’ll bark off an intruder once or twice a night, while I lie in bed judging the size of the attacker by the distance Tui moves away from the house towards the perimeter fences. If I hear her echoing against the forest in the distance, it’s a fox, while if she stays close to the front porch and whines, it’s a cougar.

This night it was an in-between barking distance so I knew it was a bear, whose size I didn’t know until dawn when I went out to free the turkeys, laying chickens and meat birds from their respective barns. The stucco wire fence and gate adjoining two of them had been broken down, probably with one swipe of a massive paw, dragging a rail along with a six inch nail away from a wall (see photo).

Fence rail smashed down beside meat bird run.

He or she (I suspect it was a she as each year I meet a mama grizzly in our yard with her cubs at some point) was probably excited by the smell or sound of our turkey flock, several of whom perch on the open window sill behind stucco wire, to take advantage of some cooler night breezes. If the bear had been insistent (as we had seen on other properties) our plywood walls would not still have been standing, but they were. I walked thirty meters along the fence line to the forest edge, the bear’s normal trail and entry point into our property, and sure enough, there was the flattened trail in the same place as previous years.

Fence smashed beside turkey barn.

I began taking my windfall apples and dumping them there as peace offering, but they haven’t been touched in three weeks. This hot summer has meant a good year for wild berries, and now the creeks are full of writhing salmon, so we may be spared any bear predations this fall.

Bear path into my yard where I leave apples for her.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to give myself or you the impression that the bears aren’t around. My friend Clarence told me just the other day that his daughter, who lives across the highway from his place ‘on our side’ (as he put it ominously) stepped out from her back door last week midmorning to confront a grizzly only meters away. And when I went to pick blackberries in Clarence’s patch last week in the last of our heat, I was un-nerved to come across a maze of flattened vines and grasses. I suddenly felt I was in the middle of a vast alfresco restaurant, with various intimate nooks where bears had lain in the shadows and feasted on the berries hanging off the ‘walls’ in all directions. It was strange to think that a giant paw may have recently brushed over the very berries I was now tenderly plucking. Clarence confirmed the fact by complaining that there is a mama black bear and cub that have been frolicking in the blackberry patch “flattening it and making a mess”.

While picking I was always on the lookout for the mama ‘just in case’. My theoretical ‘bum-per’ sticker says ‘I brake for bears.’

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7 Comments

Filed under Animal issues, Bears, Politicking with predators, Politics of Food

7 responses to “Goldilocks and the three bears

  1. I live in Powell River and last year there were lots of black bears, no Grizzlies. But this year, almost none. I pick all my fruit and nuts but most people around here don’t and there is lots on the ground but no bears, I wonder where they are…

  2. I don’t want the bears to be bothering you or the farm animals but I do like to hear about wildlife thriving.

  3. You know, I love it when we see bears in the wild while hiking but certainly would not want them creeping about my property…especially after dark.

    I’m curious, does any kind of fence keep them out? I just wondering how I would keep them out of an orchard or garden if/when we move further out some day.

    • Big electric fencing will work IF you put it up BEFORE the bears get accustomed to your fruit trees, or bees, or livestock, or whatever. If however they learn they can get at those things and then you put up the fence, you can consider your effort futile. I have a friend here who put up a major electric fence but the grizzlies were already used to accessing his fruit trees. He got into a situation where a grizzly came through the fence and then was too scared to leave the yard. Apparently facing the shock was worth it for food but not so worth it once full. Getting that bear out of his yard made for some interesting predator politicking!

      cheers,

      HDR

  4. Hi, thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog! We were running low on grass and had to switch some goats and a guardian dog over to the pasture the turkeys have been hanging around in. Apparently they did not appreciate the introduction of new neighbors and have moved on because I have not seen them in a week or so.

    Bears! Oh my! I am glad we don’t have bears around here. I can’t imagine having such a powerful predator hanging around my farm. It sure was interesting to read about them though and I am glad she didn’t get to your turkeys!

  5. I spoke to soon. A bear decided eat his supper in my plum tree..broke some branches and then pooped..

    I try to pick all my fruit but he beat me to the plums.

    Margaret

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