With such a cool, breezy morning ahead, it seemed the perfect day to take a walk in the woods. I decided to hop in the car and drive to the mountain trail behind a friend’s house to herald in the Autumn Equinox.
But while pulling out of the driveway, I suddenly stopped the car, as a very clear visual thought suddenly popped into my head – that I better go back in the house and grab my whistle, because for some odd reason I was sure I was going to see a bear today. I could actually see the bear in my mind. It was a very strong feeling and image.
I will preface this by saying that a whistle will not necessarily be effective in deterring a bear in a face-to-face encounter. Whistles are great for alerting someone in an emergency when you are alone in the woods. Supposedly, a whistle can be very helpful in scaring off a coyote. But for bears, the most prudent thing to do is carry bear spray. Since I didn’t have any bear spray, I figured the loud whistle was better than nothing. Of course, why I thought I would need any of this today was the interesting part.
As I was driving up the hill, just before I got to my friend’s place, there it was in all it’s glossy, ebony glory, standing erect in a neighbor’s yard in front of their house. It was only a few feet away. Since I was safely in my car and not on a trail meeting a bear head-on, I just stopped and sat there to watch and admire.
It was large Black bear, Ursus americanus, taller than me, but not massive. Although I am not sure, I surmised it might be a young adult bear, a teenager bear.
Bear suddenly noticed me, wheeled around and quickly ducked behind another tree, peeking out to watch me. They are generally shy and don’t want any trouble.
I put down my window a bit more, hoping to get some clearer photos, but shy bear had seen enough and quickly went loping off into the woods. It was a lovely, somewhat magical gift, heralding the official beginning of Autumn.
Continuing up the hill to my friend’s house, the two of us then headed off up into the woods. I didn’t see another bear, although there was enough of their scat to indicate they are present. However, we actually did see a coyote running off in the distance between the trees. It did not come near us (but I had my whistle!)
Due to the summer drought, berries and other edibles that the wildlife depend on have been scarce and they have come looking for food. Driven by the lure of residential garbage pails and pushed out of their environment by encroaching development, these sightings and encounters are becoming more and more frequent.
The acorns were plentiful though, and it appears they have been enjoyed. I am hoping it will all be enough for the bears to bulk up before going into winter hibernation.