A black bear made the rounds near Walnut Hill Road in North Madison, CT, on July 19–. After being chased away at one house, he'd show up at another house, checking to see what else was for dinner. He was caught on camera at 56 Walnut Hill Road and 50 Walnut Hill Road.
This must have been one hungry guy (or girl). As you can see from the video posted here, an initial attempt to drive it off by chucking an object at it resulted in ... indifference. The bear then looks up like he (or she) is wondering if the thump signaled the arrival of something else for dinner.
The person taking the video edges closer to try to shoo it off. The bear gives it some thought and trots off. But then the bear stops, turns around and heads back.
It's all about fear and food
I didn't get a chance to talk with the person who took this video. It was sent to us by a friend of the person who took it. (Thanks to both!)
But it got me to wondering, if you do encounter a persistent bear, what do you do?
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Bears assess people's behavior like they assess other bears. Their lives are ruled by fear and food. Bear Center researchers have never seen a bear they couldn't chase away, although some required extra effort ... It is probably overkill to do more to make these basically timid animals run away, but people can look more ferocious by yelling and stomping and waving their arms while moving toward a black bear. Waving a big black plastic garbage bag adds to the picture. A group is even better. Pepper spray, of course, is hard to beat. Lynda Smith uses a super-soaker squirt gun (range 35 feet) filled only with water so as not to injure eyes. An Ely, Minnesota game warden uses a slingshot with small stones to sting the back ends of bears.
The article adds that it can take a little more effort to chase away a bear that is in possession of food.
Here are some more tips from ehow.com. That article recommends using air horns, among other tactics.
Black bears would generally rather run than fight
Another article, from Mother Nature News, says black bears are essentially docile and generally easy to shoo away. Since they're small, fast, and agile, they'd generally rather run away than confront a foe. Here are some more tips from Mother Nature News:
For help surviving a black bear encounter, keep these tips in mind, Mother Nature News says:
- Be bear-aware. ... Carry bear spray in areas where black bears are active, keep food and trash packed away, and make noise when walking through the woods so you don't surprise any hidden bears.
- Stand your ground.
- Stay on the ground.
- Use bear spray.
- Fight back. Try to create space between you and the bear, but never run away — make the bear do that.
For more details on each, check out the story at Mother Nature News.
Bear spray available, but you have to order it, it's expensive and it could .. backfire
As for bear spray, I called around to see where you could find it. I checked with a salesman from Walmart in Guilford. We had a nice chat about the distinction between pepper spray, mace, and Mace® ("no, not the Medieval kind," he says to me). But, nope, none in stock in Guilford, CT. I checked The Grouse Perch Gun Shop in Old Saybrook, CT. Nope. But they'll special order it if you need it. They do have regular Mace in the store, but not bear Mace.
What's the difference? The bear Mace comes in a bigger can and "hits them with a heavier load," Grouse Perch Gun Shop Owner Tom Davis said. If you want some, you can check on price and availability by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bear Mace is available online at Amazon.com and Dick's Sporting Goods, but it's not cheap and using it presents potential issues as well. As in, you'll have to make sure you hit the bear and not yourself or someone else standing nearby. That would be bad.
Maybe stick with garbage bags, super soakers, air horns
So maybe just stock up on the big black garbage bags, super soakers, air horns. Practice yelling and stomping and waving your arms (that could be fun). Be ready to call a neighbor to help if bear B1, the one making the rounds at Walnut Hill Road, or one of his buddies shows up again.
Don't know your neighbors?
This is a great reason to get to know them, and maybe form a neighborhood group, so you can be there for each other, trade tips on how to deal with stuff like this, and talk about it over the back fence when it's all over.
Make sure your backyard doesn't become a bear friendly buffet
Of course, your best bet is to secure your garbage and make sure there isn't anything else enticing in your yard.
And here are some more specific tips from Yellowstone Bearman:
- Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area until day of pickup. Double bagging and the use of ammonia will reduce odors that attract bears. Freeze food scraps before discarding into the garbage can.
- Garbage for pickup should be put outside the morning of collection and not the night before.
- A plastic garbage bag alone does not provide enough security. Always place bagged garbage in a secondary container.
- Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile.
- Do not leave pet food or dishes outdoors at night.
- Clean up and/or store outdoor grills after use.
- Use a bear-proof dumpster, can, or store all garbage in a secure storage area without windows until day of pickup.
- Erect portable solar powered electric fences around fruit trees and gardens. Do not allow fruit or vegetables to rot on the ground.
- Compost Piles, if you must have a compost pile, enclose it with electric fencing. Don’t put meat, fish,melon rinds and other pungent scraps in the pile. Keep it aerated and properly turned. Add lime to promote decomposition and reduce odor.
- Never intentionally feed bears to attract them to your yard for viewing.