Monday, October 17, 2011

A Real Bear Story

Living in Alaska gives one an opportunity to view bears in the wild. Unfortunately, one also has the opportunity to view bears in our own neighborhoods.


This picture was taken from my deck this past summer. The bear was in a neighbor’s yard across the street from where we live.

Although bears are amazing and fun to watch, what you don’t want to see is a bear in your yard or in your neighbor’s yard.

BearJul06A (1)

This picture was also taken from my deck in July of 2006. The bear was right below me as you can see from the following picture.


We have a big problem with “garbage bears” here in our community.

A few weeks ago, our neighbors were continuing to have problems with a bruin who had gotten into their garbage weeks before. Once a bear has found what he is looking for in your yard, he is very persistent and will continue to frequent the vicinity until he is removed.

After numerous visits from what my neighbor referred to as “a very aggressive bear,” Fish and Game was called in to set a “live trap.”

A few days after the trap was set, I awakened to loud clanging sounds at approximately 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night.

The bear was caught. As he continued to clang and struggle to get out of his cage I felt scared for sure, and sorry for him that his path in life had led him to a cage and subsequent transport into unfamiliar territory.

Fish and Game arrived within the hour to attach the cage to their truck and cart the bear away from our neighborhood, hopefully to an island far away from people, where he can live out his life in peace.

To my surprise after conversing with my neighbor the next day about the bear, he admitted he was angry at the bear. He was angry because the bear continuously came around his yard and showed no fear when confronted by the man. My neighbor told me he wanted to torment the bear and punish it for getting into his garbage.

Although my neighbor didn’t follow through on his desire to torment the bear, I was taken aback by his comments.

The bears are not the problem. People are the problem. My neighbor’s garbage was accessible to the bear.

A bear’s sense of smell is many many times that of a human and this particular bear was able to smell my neighbor’s garbage through the shed that the man had it stored in.

Consequently, the bear broke into the shed.

Bears are simply following their instincts. We have moved ourselves into their territory. And we provide easy food.

I am sorry for the bear. Sorry for my neighbor. And sorry for all the other garbage bears out there that we have forced into our properties.

My neighbor didn’t know what was to be done with the bear. Normally Fish and Game will try to transport the bear to a vicinity unpopulated by humans. My hope is that is what happened.

The second alternative is to put the bear down. Especially an aggressive bear that is not afraid of humans. My hope is that this alternative was not taken.

I watched as the Fish and Game truck transported the wheeled cage containing the bear down the hill from our house. I felt good and bad at the same time. I felt bad for the bear’s uncertain fate; I felt good that we no longer had to worry about a bear in our neighborhood, at least until next time.

Because there will be a next time.

At least once a year a bear wanders into our neighborhood and finds what it is looking for.

It’s up to us humans to ensure that doesn’t happen.

I wonder how we’ll do next year.