Apparently, our little countryside corner of the world is now home to Black Bears.
Black Bear Image courtesy of criminalatt from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While my two, now grown, children were growing up here in this lovely quiet countryside hamlet of eastern Pennsylvania, I often remarked that one day a bear would walk out of the woods bordering our backyard. That remark was met with a flurry of laughter and disbelief. Well, no one's laughing now. In fact, this is anything but a laughing matter. It's got me downright spooked!
As a regular walker and a chicken keeper, I believe in a NO Black Bears Allowed policy in our neighborhood. Mother Nature begs to differ. Yes, Black Bears have been spotted wandering around the backyards across the street. A week ago, a Black Bear was seen wandering around MY backyard. Did I see it? NO! We were all out, but my neighbor told me about it later that evening, being sure to clarify that it was BIG! Do I want to see a Black Bear? Yes, but definitely from AFAR!!
More and more Black Bears are being spotted in our local area. Mama bears out for a morning stroll with a couple of mischivous cubs in tow and single wanderers looking for a new haunt have been spotted and talk is definitely not cheap. I know I stop and pay rapt attention whenever I hear any mention of a Big Black presence moseying around my neighborhood.
I know what they say. I've heard the hearsay many times. They're more afraid of you than you should be of them. Make a LOT of noise-it scares them. Don't R U N, but slowly and gingerly back away from them. All sound advice, yes, but it still offers me little to no comfort. They're BEARS after all. And, this isn't Jellystone National Park where your typical bear dons a sweeter-than-pie Yogi Bear cap and banters back and forth with a short furry sidekick named Boo Boo.
Anyway, I took action. I now whistle when I walk-carrying a whistle with me at all times while I'm out and about in my neighborhood gives me a sense of control over this un-bear-ably scary situation. I don't feel so powerless and fearful. Now, while I do stay closer to home these days and only walk during daylight hours when I can pretty much see any things that go bump on and around my path, I think it's extremely safe to say that I am still spooked.
Another tip from "the newest neighborhood gone bear country" is knowledge. Knowledge is powerful! So, I googled them. I read all about these black blurs that have been frequenting my lovely peaceful lane. I now come equipped with the knowledge I need, should I encounter said blur. I got the facts straight from the Black Bear's mouth so to speak-the Pennsylvania State Game Commission. Now, while this information was written with your average Pennsylvanian in mind; the frank, very helpful advice can be applied to any encounter with these big black beauties of the forest. Yes, they are beautiful, awesome creatures of God, but that doesn't mean I have to like them or want them wandering through my backyard.
Always be beary, beary careful when in bear country-be mindful of your surroundings and take steps to eliminate whatever food source is attracting Black Bears to your neck of the woods. Black Bears are voracious eaters and not discriminating in the least-they eat anything and everything. They'll even knock around your trash cans searching for any leftover scraps that they deem beary beary good. As true omnivores, bears eat a wide variety of foods-garden vegetables and plants,small backyard farm animals such as my egg-straordinarily sweet laying hens, your lovely well-manicured lawns, dead animal carcusses, bird seed set out for song birds, beehives, and fruit trees, etc. are all on the menu. Your backyard is a definitely a Black Bear smorgasbord.
So, all that being said, I still have yet to sight one of these Big Black Beauties. I'll keep you posted, though.