When Bears come calling

What do you do, when a bear raids your yard?  As bear populations increase, and human sprawl takes more of their territory, more and more people will face this question.  How you answer it may be critical to your future health and well being.

Bears are not generally aggressive toward humans, but they will defend their cubs and their food.  Many human-bear encounters happen in yards when bears are eating human food.  An eating bear is a dangerous bear, if disturbed.  Keep that in mind.

In this image you can see a large black bear has knocked one of our feeders out of its tree.  Big as it is, this bear can climb incredibly well, and he’s able to knock down feeders even 7-8-10 feet off the ground.

In this next image, he’s looking at me as I interrupt his feeding. As you can see, he’s none to happy with my appearance.

A bear raids the feeder

What should a homeowner know, when this happens in his yard?  Either do nothing, or make noise from a safe location.

You should know that a bear can move way faster than a human.  If he wanted to, this bear could move fifty feet in little more than two seconds.  If a bear decides to attack, you won’t have much time to prepare.

Consequently, it’s not wise to walk outside to threaten him.  In this photo, I am safely above the bear, on a second floor deck. 

We have a bear bell and wind chimes here at Chez Robison.  A moment after this photo was taken, my wife Maripat rang them both.  The bear looked annoyed, and retreated to the edge of the woods.  However, he came back and returned to the feeder.  She rang them again.  With a look of disgust, he walked off. 

The Bear Bell

It was, to my mind, a good encounter.  Non one got hurt, and feeder was undamaged.  The brace it hung on . . . that’s another matter.

The bear departs

This bear wasn’t too hungry.  A hungrier bear might not have given up.  What then?  At our house, the backup for the bear bell is a Winchester .44 repeater.  However, I would not shoot a bear simply because he was raiding the feeders.  After all, we put the food out there for the animals (more specifically, the birds.)  How should he know he’s not included? 

If you have to chase a bear away, I suggest you make a lot of noise from a safe place, or drive a car in his direction. Do not walk toward him, even banging pots and pans.  You might not like his response.  Even if you have a gun, things can go bad quickly.  When I was 25, and shot handguns in competition, I could nail a bear like this with five shots in two seconds.  Today, at 55, I’d do well to hit him at all.  Best to leave the guns as a last resort.

That said, I will say some bears are remarkably gun savvy.  One time many years ago I awoke at dawn to the sound of dogs barking.  As soon as I cracked the front door the dogs scrambled inside.  Alerted, I picked up my 30-06 rifle and opened it again.  A hundred feet down the drive a large bear looked back at me.  As I watched, he began walking toward the house.  I stepped out, and raised the gun.  He stopped.   We stood there, watching one another.   After a moment, he started toward the house, slower.  I leveled the gun to shoot, and he stopped again.  Now I kept him dead in my sights. 

He looked back at me, and I at him.  Slowly, he turned and walked away. A few minutes later, with the woods quiet, I went back inside.  That bear, I thought, knows his weapons.  He never came back.

Good luck!


Sandra Cormier said…
Years ago, we went canoeing and saw a black bear near our launch point. I had a little point & shoot camera, and really, really wanted a picture. The bear was down a hill, near a garbage can.

I knew I was downwind, and that his eyesight was SUPPOSED to be poor. So I crept closer, and whistled so he'd look up.

He squinted, I got the shot (a crappy one because I had no telephoto), and he ambled away.

My mates though I was crazy. Maybe I was.
Yikes! We have bears near us too! The kids won't go outside after dark because they are scared.

We don't have a bear bell. We are definitely going to have to look into getting one...
LG said…
No need to be afraid of black bears. Read all about what these bear researchers have learned. http://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/bears-a-humans.html

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