Saturday, July 26, 2008


I like our bears, even if they seem to tease my dog; he goes ballistic when he smells them…which is quite often these days. We are suffering a drought and the bears are very hungry; they have been taught by the townspeople here that food is easy to get from dumpsters and garbage cans. It’s a shame. When the bears show up, some people complain. I don’t get it…but no point in going into that again! This bear was in an apple tree just over my fence...but there are no apples this year.

Here's a factoid: According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, for every person killed by a black bear in North America, 60 are killed by domestic dogs, 180 by bees, and 350 by lightning.

Still, when a bear is the target of a complaint, it receives a tag in one ear…to show it may be becoming acclimated (and so less afraid) of people. Generally the bear is moved. If it gets into ‘trouble’ again (sometimes just being spied in town); they’re killed dead. So…I don’t call the cops on the bears; no more 3-strikes and yer out. I keep my garbage where they cannot get to it until a couple hours before the trash hauler comes. My dog is a Livestock Guardian Dog…he pretty much keeps the bears from any interest in coming into the yard. They’re all around…just outside the fence; in my neighbor’s apple trees, in the yard across the way where there is a spring, in the big willow tree in my front yard (to the dismay of my dog).

I have to plan when to walk my dog; too late and I run the risk of walking into a bear. Just about did that the other day…it scared the bejezus outta both of us. And of course my dog went nuts. LOL

A couple with some kids, probably grandkids, were walking up the street the other day, just about dusk. The kids were running ahead, the couple waved and said hello. I said “Hello, good time of the night to see a bear,” trying for some kind of polite warning to keep the kids closer. The guy looked around and then back to me and asked, “Are they dangerous?” Dang…what do you say to a grown man who asks such a question?

A year or two ago, when the drought was really bad, bears in Cuchara were removing siding from cabins where people lived to get to food; one removed a window to get to a sink-full of dirty dishes. Aspen, Beaver Creek and Vail, after a bear swatted at an elderly woman as she was in her kitchen preparing a pot-roast, passed trash laws. Trash draws bears in; once they get comfortable they become bolder about finding food where people are. They can remove a door from a locked car, they can take a front door off a building...and they can run 30 miles per hour. Dangerous?

Here’s a recent story about a woman and a bear near the California fires this year: Yahoo, LA Times and another story from Beaver Creek earlier this month.

Here’s what is said about avoiding bear attacks:
Mountain Nature, USDA Forest Service, Aspen, CO, National Park Service/Yellowstone,

There is a study which should be rounding up this year. Hopefully it will underscore what we already know…we teach bears get comfortable in town by making trash accessible. When trash-laws are instigated and obeyed, bear-incidents decline.

Oh, and yeah…bears can be dangerous but with some education we can learn to live with them.

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