Black Bear Friendly or Not

Black bear sightings at our property in Virginia are exciting to us. We love to watch them. Sometimes they come through routinely enough to become recognizable – yes, they have individual characteristics in their faces, noses, hair color or texture. Sometimes a mama bear brings her cubs to eat in the wild blueberry thickets behind the cabin. Sometimes they seek the cherries or the blackberries. They have left enormous claw marks on the old apple tree that still bears profusely.

They are curious about us too, but only come up to the cabin when we are away. But they have left nose prints on the glass, paw prints on the deck, and on the window sills where they pull themselves up to peer inside.

We are very conscious about discouraging them from the cabin. We never put trash outside, leave food where they can get into it, or even leave dog food in the utility room unless it is zipped up in a large bag.

We respect the distance that should be maintained and so far, have had no issues.

We haven’t been seeing any bears this particular season though and joked that they had traveled down to Greensboro, NC to visit, as a bear had been spotted there a couple of times last week. It would climb up a tree and draw a crowd. Left alone, it would come down and go off to do whatever it is that bears do, then come back and roost again in the shade. It became quite popular with the folks around town and even got its own facebook page. Television crews reported on it and perhaps it just liked the limelight.

Back in Virginia, one bear came out Monday night and we watched him under the tree where my husband has a deer feeder. He can feed from January to September and once the deer get used to having something to eat in the harsh winter, they tend to hang around. Right now he’s trying to coax them out of the alfalfa.

This young bear was slick and beautiful. When he saw us he tried to hide his big old body behind a very young poplar sapling – about a dozen leaves max. He stuck out on either side, but he would hide his face. He came back Tuesday morning. Beautiful! I took his picture from the back porch. He is the black speck among the green. Cell phones don’t have the best cameras – sorry.

High on seeing one of our beauties, imagine our sadness at learning Greensboro officials had shot the bear in the tree. It hadn’t appeared harmful, but they were afraid it might become dangerous. Why they didn’t tranquilize it and move it is the question we most want answered.

To my knowledge it had not threatened anyone, but it was a wild animal. And people can be a little too curious. It was also getting close to the PTI Airport and there seemed to be additional concern that it might run onto the tarmac and wreck a plane. Nobody wants that to happen. But again – couldn’t the bear be tranquilized and returned to the wild or even to a zoo? Were there no other options? Sad to know the bear had to die because we couldn’t think of any other solution.

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