Thursday, July 9, 2020

Does a Bear Poop in the Woods?

Does a bear poop in the woods? I am no longer unequivocal in my answer.

I spent a lifetime on this planet never having seen a bear up close and personal. Now I half expect one to pull up a chair next to me for breakfast.

Something strange is happening here. Not just the same "strange" that is impacting our entire planet, but the mystery of why bears seem to be showing up more frequently than deer on the streets in my neighborhood.
Yesterday, on a hike with family, my son noticed something moving in a field. It was not more than an ear sticking up at first, but soon it rose to full height. Maybe a month ago, this would have registered as an earthquake for me. Now it barely moved the needle.

I don't want to sound cavalier or dismissive of the danger, for these are not household pets. No matter how docile they seem, how much they appear to be more afraid of me than I am of them, I can't let my guard down the next sighting.

This was the sixth time I crossed paths with a bear in recent days. Twice within yards of us on our property, once crossing in front of me as I drove on local streets, once as I took an afternoon stroll, another time as I travelled on the highway and then yesterday's encounter, really the first where I could say that a bear does still likely poop in the woods.

I am sure there are explanations for this phenomenon. A late spring, an early summer. Too much rain in April. Too little rain in May. More garbage in each of our trash cans as we eat at home much more than before. Less garbage in the woods as we stayed put during all this weeks.

But whatever the reason, the result is astounding. A number of years ago I was hiking in a location where bears and moose were known to proliferate. I had been taught to react differently depending on which animal I encountered. I wondered what I would do if I ran into both at the same time. 

I saw neither during that time when I half expected I might. But until recent days, I never imagined bears might become a regular visitor to my world. Now I think they need to put "bear crossing" signs on every street corner.

Death, taxes and the answer to "does a bear poop in the woods" were the only certainties in this existence. But from here on, I will have to check the bottom of my shoes as I walk through town before I know whether or not the list is reduced to two.


Anonymous said...

We have not seen them for a good number of years as well but one was sleeping against a tree behind our house last Friday, woke up and strolled through the neighborhood. Good suggestion - I will also start to check the bottom of my shoes!


Anonymous said...

One tore down our bird feeders in the middle of the night. Beautiful animals but don't get too close. And what about the right to arm bears?