Bear in the yard

DSCN1985 Rocky Point is nestled in between the east facing slope of the Cascades and the Upper Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  We are on what is known in Oregon as “the east side”, with sunny skies and much less rainfall than the western part of Oregon.  In fact, much of the landscape east of the Cascades is considered desert, high desert, and dominated by sage and juniper.  If you look at a map of Oregon, you will see that the moist and rainy west side is only about a third of the state.  The major population centers of Oregon, however, are on the west side, the rainy side, and most people who don’t know the state well think of Oregon as green, lush, and rainy.

I happen to think that I have the best of both worlds here in Rocky Point.  We have the brilliant sunny skies of the east side, but since we are right at the base of the Cascades, we have enough rainfall to support a beautiful white fir/ponderosa pine/sugar pine forest.  We also have snow in the winter, much more than the western part of Oregon, in fact, Crater Lake, just a short drive from here has some of the deepest snow packs in the country.

With beautiful forests comes the added benefit of lots of wildlife.  No matter how frustrating it is to see my roses chewed down to the ground, I still enjoy seeing the doe and her fawns slipping around in the woods near the house. Mo built this house in 2002, and in all that time has never seen a bear on the property, although there have been rumors of bears roaming the neighborhoods now and then.

'10 Oct_Backyard bear 002While we were away, our neighbor reported that bears were finding the garbage cans, and roaming about.  Our can was basically empty since we weren’t here, but when we returned home I found a large pile of bear scat in the yard.  I know, of course, that this is the number one rule of living in the woods.  Your garbage MUST be secured against wildlife intrusion.  Instead, we thoughtlessly left the large can out in the yard, forgetting that a bear was possibly roaming about.

Sure enough, last weekend when I was unloading the MoHo, I turned around to see a very large black Newfoundland in the yard, and wondered who in the world had a dog that big around here.  I looked into his face, maybe 10 feet away, and looked again suddenly realizing I was looking right into the eyes of a very shiny, very pretty, young black bear.  He looked back at me, and I tried to figure out how to yell for Mo, who was around in the front of the house, without bringing the dog or scaring off the bear.  I got way too excited, and by the time Mo got around the house and I found the camera, Mr. Bear was gone.

I do hate to admit that we neglected to bring in the garbage can right away, but planned to take care of it this weekend.  Yesterday, while I was at work, Mo called to say she had a surprise.  Mr. Bear had returned, again in broad daylight in mid afternoon, '10 Oct_Backyard bear 001and was happily nosing around in the dumped over can.  Mo had time to find the camera, get the dog inside and then go back to shoo the bear away.  She told me she went out there with a broom.  “A broom??!!” I said.  “You were going to fight off a bear with a broom?!”.  “Well, he was just little and cute and didn’t seem very scary at all”. 

First she threw a couple of rocks to get his attention, and he stamped his foot and woofed at her a little, saying “Don’t bother me”.  She waved the broom at him and he ambled off, not too disturbed by her, even stopping to take a nice long drink from the bird bath before walking off into the forest.  And Mo got photos.  I think she may not be quite as excitable as I am.  Ha!

Needless to say, we did the responsible thing and put the garbage in the shop, locked up tight.  The sweet little bear is probably a 2 year old, just recently sent off by his mother, and is trying to find his way in the world. He will grow up into a nice big bear, and hopefully other folks around here will also keep their garbage put away and he will go off into the woods to make his living. Sweet little bears that get too used to people turn into not so sweet big bears that can be a problem.  I hope he stays wild and forgets that this yard once had a tasty morsel lying around.

'10 Oct_Backyard bear 003

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

One thought on “Bear in the yard”

  1. We spent five days sitting with the coastal bears of Katmai and were very comfortable in their presence, but I don't know how I would react to a bear in my backyard (not that it would happen where we are) … it would be a thrill for sure, but I imagine there would be a bit of a chill down the spine, too. Hopefully, like you said, it will wander back into the woods to live a long life.


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