On the Friday before Labor Day, 2005, my wife and I sat out on the elevated deck at the old place, chatting. I had worked a half day from home, the boy was napping, and the lass was only a gleam in my eye. As we spoke, I noticed movement over my wife’s shoulder, out at the edge of the trees. Large movement.
A big black bear (Ursus americanus) moved placidly out from the wooded area and into our yard. I arched an eyebrow, took another sip of my g&t, then thought to myself Bear in the yard! Bear in the yard! Bear in the yard! Bear in the yard! I admired its glossy coat. Then I thought Bear in the yard! Bear in the yard!
I mentioned the bear to my wife. She found it interesting as well. SHE thought Bear in the yard! Bear in the YARD! BEAR in the yard! Bear IN the yard!
Oh and the shouting to our neighbors not to come out, and the banging of the pots and pans and the shouts of “gettee on, bear!” (I am fourth generation Queens by heritage, so I knows my bear-scaring tactics….they HATE “gettee on.”) I called animal control. Because let me tell you, this bear was completely uncontrolled. Like some kind of force of nature. You come into MY yard? I don’t THINK so, friend. You just got yourself a call to a special agency, pal.
They told me to call the State Police. The State Police told me the bear wasn’t breaking any laws. What was WRONG with these people? The bear cares nothing for our petty human laws! It’s as complete a scofflaw as was ever cubbed! This bear in particular! Why was there no one who would CONTROL this bear, which was by this time wandering along up the hill at the edge of the woods that backed the yards, doubtless daydreaming of giant garbage cans filled with mallomars and honey.
I was on my way in to get the camera when I heard the shotgun blast.
Turns out one of the neighbors (Recklus endangerus) had thought to come out to see the bear, had walked around the corner of a house and found himself closer than he’d expected. And oh yeah, he happened to walk out of his house with a loaded shotgun, just in case.
This time I thought Live ammo in the neighborhood! LIVE ammo in the neighborhood! Live AMMO in the neighborhood! Live ammo in the NEIGHBORHOOD!
Our resident marksman, a very young volunteer fireman, was apologetic but employed the “coming at us” defense. The bear had fled, apparently uninjured. I suggested – since you don’t command a deranged 24-year-old with a shotgun – that he never again ever fire a loaded shotgun anywhere near my house.
So far, so good — but we moved just in case. And on our first day in the new place, which is in the heart of a village and not far from the main street, our new neighbor came out and told us about the pictures he took of the bear eating the bird feeders in our new front yard.
I look forward to seeing those snaps.