Saturday, June 22, 2024

Bad news bears

Editor | October 19, 2022 7:10 AM

My neighbor was doing some saw work the other day in his driveway. I figured he was working on his house. He was, sort of.

He was building a bear-resistant cabinet for his garbage can.

It was the sort of woodwork I could only hope to do in another life. We’ve had a neighborhood bear now for about a month.

He said one night the bear got into his garbage and he went outside to shoo it away and the bear was literally crawling under his pickup truck to get a morsel.

Thus the garbage cabinet project.

I have bearproof garbage cans at my house because I have no garage. The bear, which has been named Chuggy, is a rather fat and smart black bear.

One night a family member didn’t properly secure the latch and Chuggy knocked over the can and took off with a bag of garbage in his mouth.

Since then, I double check the latch ever night before I go to bed.

Chuggy knocks the cans over, but he can’t get in.

I caught him one night. From the bedroom, I can look down at him.

“Ha, Ha,” I said. “You can’t get in.”

Chuggy gave me the bad eye and went down the driveway.

The bears are in town because the berry crop all but failed. The wet spring damaged the blossoms and the bone dry August dried up what was left.

Th berries that remain, mostly hawthorn and choke cherry, are along the rivers and streams, which lead into town.

Why work for berries when you can knock over a garbage can?

Chuggy ransacked the garbage cans at Marantette Park, too. The city removed the cans and put in a bear-proof can, but like mine, it only works if it’s properly latched and Chuggy ransacked it again.

Last night I made sure it was latched. It’s one thing to be woken up by a bear tipping over a can. But when they actually get the garbage, they make a lot more racket.

The city’s emergency bear law I would say gets an A for intent, but it only is as good as the proverbial latch on the bear can. (The city has spent about $9,000 on bear proof containers to its credit).

In addition, two black bears have been hit by cars that I know of. Grizzlies reportedly have been scaring folks, too. Someone was reportedly bluff charged at the Bad Rock Wildlife Management Area and I heard a story of another bear chasing a kid on a bike.

Let’s hope this cold weather arrives in earnest this weekend and at least some of the bears, fattened up on apple peels and leftover French fries, go to bed.

That will give us a few months to work on more permanent policies, education and, hopefully, solutions.