Sunday afternoon around five pm Brian Dale called to report a bear wandering down in the wetlands between our houses and the river. We had the usual difficulty agreeing on where he was looking and where I was looking... "he's by the dead tree!" - "which dead tree?" - "that dead tree, the one by the pond" - "next to the green bush?" - "No, the other dead tree." (Yes, our communication skills are a bit primeval, what else is new.) Eventually though, the bear did appear in the wetlands farther upstream towards our house. Eagle eye Brian was grateful for confirmation of his sighting.
The brown bear didn't look particularly large but moved with a linebackers powerful grace. It loped around a bit, ran twenty feet up into an evergreen (yes, it did look like the bear just ran up the tree) and then slid back down. Then it began galumphing towards our side of the wetlands. I hung up the phone, ran to get the camera, yelled at Mrs. FlyingCracker (in the driveway) to go into our fenced back yard and look for the bear, and then ran outside myself. The elapsed time since I had last seen the bear was about twenty seconds; now it was gone. I stood on the second highest rail of our split rail fence to get a better vantage point while Sue leaned on the fence ten feet to my right. We strained to catch a glimpse of brown fur, or rustling bushes or something, anything, but nothing was down there except half a dozen very agitated robins.
Four minutes had passed since we rushed outside, four minutes of intense scrutiny focused on the wetlands below. Disappointed that Sue couldn't share the viewing, I turned to console her... and that's when the bear, all seven feet of it, casually loped through our nicely manicured back yard, ten feet away from Sue, and hopped the fence! Here is a reconstruction of our position and the path the bear took in the backyard.
I had my trusty Sony DSC-W1 digital camera with me but couldn't get a photo until after the bear was over the fence heading back down to the wetlands. As best we can tell, while Sue and I looked down into the wetlands, the bear hiked up the slope into our next-door neighbors front yard and then across the driveway and through our (open) gate into our back yard. So focused was our attention, and so quiet was the bear, that we didn't notice its presence until I just happened to look over. What a shock. He shuffled around for a bit halfway down the slope and I got this photo:
Here is the bear crossing a beaver dam from our side of the wetlands towards the river. The bear looks small, but keep in mind that dam is quite a ways down from our house. As a rough estimate the dam is about 10 - 12 feet across.
Eventually we lost the bear in the wetland brush heading towards the East / Slate river confluence. The last thing we saw was a small fawn (not a kangaroo like Brian first thought) springing around madly in the wetlands, but no more overt sign of bear.
We (or our dogs) could have been "what's for dinner" for that hungry fella. Ursa, thanks for visiting and thanks even more for leaving peacefully!
Postscript: The very next day on her drive home from work Sue saw a bear on Cement Creek road between Hwy 135 and the entrance to CB South. We also heard from a friend in Lower Allen Homesites who recently confronted a bear in her house. Wonder if it's the same fella. Apparently the DOW has been watching a male bear in the area looking for a suitable domain. If you live in the area you would do well to keep your garbage, food, birdseed, etc. locked up and out of reach.