Don’t Feed (or Chase) the Bears

The activity packet warned us about bears in the area–black bears, specifically.  A full page of things to do and not to do around the cabins.

To prove that men do not often read information, one of the men (name withheld to protect the not-so-innocent) in the family put trash out in the afternoon.

Ooops.

That evening, my brother-in-law spotted a smallish bear outside our cabin.  He called on his cell phone to tell everyone while he followed the bear around the back of the cabin in a wide circle.  A few of us ran outside (I know, crazy) to watch him follow the bear.

Black bears would rather avoid conflict

Here’s a picture he took from his cell phone. The bear is in the red box.Those of us outside watched from a greater distance while the cell phone photographer got a couple more pictures of the fleeing bear.We spent the rest of the week teasing him about chasing bears.  I don’t think he’ll ever live this down.

Later that night (1:30 am), my husband and I heard a terrble noise outside our room.  We had a first-floor, corner bedroom, and the cabin trash container was in front of one of our windows.  Something was trying to open the trash container.

What do you think we did? We got up and looked out the window, of course!

My husband shined a flashlight into the growling bear’s face.  It was much bigger than the bear that my brother-in-law chased followed the day before.

There we were standing three feet away from a very large black bear with nothing but a window and a wooden trash container between us.  With more noise from us and the flashlight blinding it, the bear disappeared into the darkness.  I’m so glad we weren’t in grizzly bear country (which is only in the far northwestern part of the country, according to my very knowledgeable 14-year-old).

My husband managed to take a few pictures of the bear, but I won’t post them.  They are about as interesting as a black bear on a dark night or a polar bear in a snowstorm.  Nothing to see.

The bear’s mess

Needless to say, I didn’t get back to sleep for a long time.

In the morning, we found that the bear had pulled the trash container door hard enough to break the latch.  A simple push on the door gave the bear access to the trash bag inside. It was quite a mess.You would think after TWO bear encounters in less than 12 hours, the family would get the message about putting trash out.

Nope.

Really?

Really.

Bear tracks outside our cabin

The next night, the same big bear paid us another visit and took out the trash again.  I scared it off when I opened our bedroom door.  The hallway light was on, and it streamed into our room.  The bear ran away before my husband could take any pictures (sorry, Honey). I did get a picture of bear paws in the morning.

With another trash mess to clean up, we got our act together about the proper time to put out the garbage (before noon, so the facility could collect it before 5 pm).

The third night, my 14-year-old waited up to see the bear.  It showed up around midnight–a black ghostly form in the dark.  Without trash to keep its interest and with the noise we made looking for the camera, the bear left.

The bears knew which cabins had the older, not-bear-proof trash bins.  They were known to follow the same path every night.  Lovely.

I heard the big bear one other night, but it left us alone for the rest of the week.  Now that we’d gotten the trash pickup schedule down.  Sheesh.

Do you know what are you supposed to do if you encounter a bear? This website has great information. It also differentiates between black bears and grizzly bears.

If you want to check out were we stayed, go see the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch blog. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful (that’s saying something since I grew up near the coast and love the beach).

What wild animal encounter stories do you have to tell?   Share in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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15 thoughts on “Don’t Feed (or Chase) the Bears

  1. Pauline B Jones

    I am ALWAYS for avoiding contact with bears. LOL! My family still tease me about my bear-mares. And my mom sends me bear mauling stories. And btw, black bears maul people, too. (grin)

    Reply
    1. Diana Beebe Post author

      Pauline, I can’t believe your family “feed your bear”-mare issues with stories. 😛 It was a little bit scary. I’m very grateful the small bear had no interest in chasing my brother-in-law back! I’m also glad there was a large object and a wall between us and the larger bear. I perfer not to give any bear an excuse to get mad.

      Reply
      1. Pauline B Jones

        I know! I come from dark stock. (grin) It does seem like there is more bear/people interaction than when I was younger. My dad thinks its because they are always messing with the bears, darting and tagging and moving them around. Makes them cranky. Or addicted. Or both. (grin)

        Reply
  2. TommieLyn

    I always give wild animals a wide berth…I figure they’ve got their space, I’ve got mine, and never the twain should intersect, know whut I mean? But you got some interesting experiences from it…maybe something that can spark a story?

    Reply
    1. Pauline B Jones

      Bears don’t always recognize their space. While I was in Cody (WY) a bear was in downtown, about 3 blks from b-i-l’s office. They had to shoot it. And then they keep darting them and hauling them somewhere else. Must tick them off.

      Reply
      1. Diana Beebe Post author

        They are wild animals, after all. The wild fires in Colorado pushed many bears out of their territories. Then if they get “corrupted” (break into buildings and cars to get food), they are put down–not darted and moved. 😦

        Reply
        1. Pauline B Jones

          My b-i-l was at boy scout camp. a bear was bothering the camp, so they moved it…close to the girl’s camp. and heard about this guy killed because he came on a bear just waking up after darting. they are moving bears around so much up in Northern WY, amazing bears aren’t dizzy. just seems like, in the old days, the bears managed their own populations. (grin)

      2. TommieLyn

        True about bears not recognizing their space. We often get reports of bears wandering into neighborhoods in neighboring Fort Walton Beach, Florida (the huge Eglin AFB is nearby, and is home to lots of wild life).

        And once, here in Milton, IN TOWN, a buck crashed through the front door of the building where I worked. They assumed he saw his reflection in the glass and thought he was seeing another deer.

        Reply
        1. Diana Beebe Post author

          Oh, my! That’s scary. I can’t even imagine a large animal coming through a door like that! We’ve seen coyotes in our neighborhood at night and had to warn neighbors walking their dogs a block away. There aren’t many green spaces left in our city, but the animals do adapt.

  3. Jordan L. Hawk

    Many years ago, my husband and I stayed in a campground in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula. As we pulled in, there were signs EVERYWHERE warning people not to leave food unattended because of bears.

    So we’re driving around the campground, trying to find a nice secluded spot, and what do we see? Some geniuses have put an entire buffet on a picnic table and LEFT. Well, the Hoh doesn’t just have bears–it has ravens as well. A whole parliament was on the table going to town. Potato salad flying everywhere, hot dog buns ripped apart–they were having the best time a raven can have. We laughed ourselves silly.

    Reply
  4. Debra Myers Woodward

    We went to the Bare Naked Ladies concert the other night in Dallas (with Big Head Todd and the Monsters)–it was outdoors, and unfortunately, there were no bare naked ladies around–and the monsters weren’t very scary. But there was a grasshopper that jumped onto the lead singer’s shoulder for a song–then hung out on the stage for the rest of the concert. Does that count? 😉

    Reply
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