The bear came over the mountain


For a usually quiet Saturday morning my phone just kept ringing. The first call was from a company trying to sell me an extended warranty on a car I haven’t owned for nearly two years. I quickly put an end to that fellows idea. The next call was the young man who helps me with chores around here, and we set up a time for some work. The next call was really interesting. It was my immediate next door neighbor ... about 100 feet downhill from us. She was calling all the neighbors to give them a heads up that our resident bear had just been on her deck, standing up to check the pole that used to hold a winter bird feeder. A bit of shouting and stomping around shooed him off the deck, but where he was headed next was anyone’s guess.

My neighbors are all good custodians of the land and the creatures who inhabit it. They are all careful about refuse storage, and keeping food sources inaccessible However, we seem to be in an area with a fair amount of bear movement. There’s a swamp they like to our west. North of us is a state forest, and there are thick woods to our east, bordered by a large apple orchard and blueberry farm. Generally the bears come out of the woods from the east, heading steeply downhill to the swamp. My front yard is a favorite throughfare as well as my neighbors. Sightings have become fairly common in recent years.

Last year seemed to be a big bear year, and as soon as they emerged from hibernation this spring the visits have gotten increasingly frequent. We’re certain that the bear we’ve all seen is the same one. This particular guy isn’t quite fully grown, and he has a specific M.O. He is looking for feeders, and there aren’t any on this road, but that doesn’t stop him from lumbering across decks and open porches up and down the road. Our concern is that he has less fear of humans than he should, and that has the potential to lead to trouble. He may be finding the pickings a lot easier on one of the other roads nearby, and has come to associate houses with year round bird feeders. On this road its just not the case. Bear are seen so regularly up and down the entire length of the road that precautions have been in place for years. It’s just the nature of where we live, and we seem to be able to cohabitate quite nicely as long as we keep our distance.

I have a big pile of dirt and field stones in my side yard near the woods. While intended to be there temporarily, the pile has been sitting for 7 years and has become covered with black berries. The crop it yields is simply amazing. I worry that it will be an irresistible attraction for our neighborhood bear. My fiancee picks those berries each year and always makes a bunch of noise when she approaches the patch just in case there is a big hairy creature stuffing his face out there. So far so good. I gave that pile of rocks to a neighbor, and he will be removing them this summer. That means our berry patch will go with it, but that’s OK. It will make things a bit safer here. It should also remove the habitat for one of the biggest, fattest, most elusive woodchucks I’ve seen in years. It’s a good thing we don’t have a vegetable garden because he’d be livin’ larger than he already is.

I like the fact that we get to see the variety of wildlife we see here year round. We hear Barred owls hunting the nearby ridges every night, and we hear the coyotes, too. Wild turkeys, foxes, deer, the occasional moose, and of course our bear. Our neighbor caught him on camera, and the shot is amazing. There he is, upright at full height, looking at the stunning view down the valley. The bear really did come over the mountain to see what he could see.

Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.


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