Big news yesterday was that a bear wandered down from a mountain to the East, walked along my fence line and then through a neighbors garden then up the mountain to the South of the house.
Nothing at all unusual about that, well not to me at any rate.
I live in a canyon on a mountain. The peak to the south of me tops 8000 ft (maybe higher, I don’t feel like digging out the topo maps for an exact altitude.) I live at 6250 FT above sea level.
In this area we have bears, coyotes, bobcats, and the occasional cougar (mountain lion). We also have rabbits, raccoons, deer, bats, owls, and hawks. Not to mention a variety of snakes, poisonous and non poisonous.
Part of the reason I like living here is that there are birds in the trees, and wildlife is pretty abundant.
I get a kick out of the way people down below get their panties in a bunch when they see a critter.
On the one hand they’ll oooh and ahhh and protest about the destruction of the Brazilian habitat and yet they’ll freak out when they encounter a Coyote on a trail near their tract homes.
God forbid a Bear should walk through a neighborhood… Mountain Lions? You’d think that a T-Rex had been found alive.
(Down Below… That’s how we refer to the areas which are not Mountain towns. Yes it sounds effete and I guess it is, so what? Even my Orange County friends live on the top of a mountain, Yes, we do look down on some areas.)
I understand that these people are so disconnected from nature that the only way they ever interact with wildlife is via the Discover Channel, Green Peace, or a nice safe zoo.
Their support of environmental causes doesn’t do anything to minimize their blatant hypocrisy. There are times when I want to slap them and point out that protecting the environment starts at home.
Maybe people should tear down some of their 15FT high concrete walls around their homes. How about creating easements so that critters could once again migrate to better hunting grounds and sources of water easily?
Oh I see, that’s too scary… You’d have to be responsible and keep an eye on your kids & pets.
I get it, it’s the same mentality that says “put criminals in prison, but don’t build the prison near me.” Or “I want cheap clean electricity but it can’t be nuclear and solar panels are so ugly… Thank goodness my homeowner association won’t let those in our development.”
I got to thinking about these things because a neighbor has family visiting. The family is from one of the most artificial warrens of humanity I’ve ever seen… New York City.
The Grandmother was so freaked out by the fact that a bear had been sighted she’d been keeping the children inside for fear that the bear would carry them off and devour them.
She kept asking why no-one was concerned and why didn’t we contact animal control or the police? (I heard it all through the open windows, sound carries here in the canyon.)
She just assumed that the locals (us) didn’t have a plan.
Obviously we were ignorant savages because we weren’t freaking out about it. (Hummm now that sounds familiar… in what other context are people presumed to be too unintelligent to handle their own affairs?)
We do have a plan. When we see a bear we contact those people we know have kids first. Then folks with small pets. We inform each other that a bear or other critter is in the neighborhood and to take appropriate action.
Often this results in families gathered on their decks well above ground watching the critter pass harmlessly by. It’s a great show and we feel privileged to have been able to watch.
Then when the critter has gone, the kids, and dogs go back outside to play and life returns to normal.
We’re prepared, we keep our garbage in special containers and we don’t leave edible things outside to attract critters. We also know that most critters aren’t at all interested in us.
Coyotes & Hawks keep the rabbits, mice, and other rodents in check.
We don’t as a rule have to worry about gophers, squirrels, or rabbits, getting out of control in our gardens.
Sure, we might have to replant a few plants one morning but the telltale blood on the ground tells us that the rodent met it’s end.
Replanting a few plants is a small price to pay for not having to poison the environment.
Notice I said, “out of control”… I lose a few raspberries, blackberries, and apples each year to rodents and birds. I’m content to share, they have to eat too.
FYI there is nothing like watching a Hawk snatch a critter off the ground and fly off. It’s amazing. Yeah, I feel sorry for the critter but it’s not going to suffer.
I do my part, I accept losses in my garden so that I can witness hawks and snakes doing what comes naturally.
Watching coyotes hunt in the evening or the early morning is a study in teamwork. It’s very interesting to watch and surprisingly often, the prey slips between the coyotes paws and the pack goes hungry.
I enjoy the acrobatic flight of bats snagging insects out of the air.
When I get to watch a bear wander around. The light on their fur makes them look shiny. The last bear I saw had dark black fur but the sunlight playing across its shoulders hinted at a reddish undertone.
You think about bears and cougars as being somewhat monochromatic but they’re not. They have variations and each one is unique, just like people.
You can’t really appreciate that unless you get to watch them in their natural habitat.
All of these things are worth the minimal risks. The kids learn a lot more practical lessons and hopefully appreciate nature a little more than the denizens of glass and concrete.
My neighbors were trying to explain all of this to Grandma, but she was having none of it.
This was wild and uncontrolled (therefore dangerous) and we have to protect the children! I knew for sure that Grandma was from a big city when she said that.
Protecting children is obvious, for the most part instinctive, and even those like myself without children will go out of our way to protect them.
(“Protect the children” as a phrase has lost all meaning as it has been overused to forward an agenda. I personally believe that agenda will in fact increase the danger that children face. I’m a believer in knowledge and experience being far better protectors of children than fear and insulation from the world. That’s another completely different story, for another time.)
I couldn’t help but think about the noise that kids make. They’re loud and active and every animal on the planet knows that where there are young… Mama’s not too far away.
Nothing is more dangerous than a mother protecting her young. So between the noise and the mama rule… Critters are going to give the area a wide berth.
I thought I could have some fun by pointing out the wide variety of poisonous snakes and insects that no doubt existed where the kids had been playing. And that the kids were far more likely to break bones or come to other harm by running around barefoot in the yard.
Thus far I’ve refrained.
No sense in terrorizing Grandma, she’d just make it harder on the kids.
My neighbor pointed out to the Grandmother that I tended to keep an eye on the kids too.
I’m sure that raised eyebrows because so many people nowadays automatically assume the worst. At least it gave her something else to fixate on.
I notice the kids are outside running around enjoying themselves again.