Here's The Scoop: June 18, 2014
Are bears becoming the new deer? Maybe.
Bear sightings in the Catskills are not nearly as rare as they once were. “Common,” might even be a good description. Or, maybe Facebook postings just make it feel that way.
I went more than half my life before my first bear sighting. It was really cool. Big, too. Oddly enough, the bear was sitting, Budda-like, among residences in the hamlet of Arkville. I had a camera, but had to pause to load film (I said it was a long time ago) and kind of missed the photo op. Still, I had a bear encounter to write about. And, I did.
In the years since then, I’ve seen bears on quite a few occasions. A couple of days ago, I got up close and personal with one. Very close. Our cat, who is considerably smaller than a bear, let out a growl (ironic) alerting me to the bear’s presence as it strolled across the patio.
As luck would have it, I actually had a camera handy — but no film again! That was OK, since it was a digital camera. The bear wasn’t terribly large, but I still had little interest in getting too close. So, I moved around inside the house, shooting photos as the bear explored just about everything.
I make up stuff!
Experienced readers of this column know that I sometimes take column writer’s license and embellish the “facts” in this space. Just a few weeks ago, I happened to recall the incident that occurred several years ago when a hungry bear caught wind of the irresitable scent of a take-home meal from Five Guys Burgers and Fries that had lingered in my car. The bear then proceeded to rip the handle off the vehicle in pursuit of a gourmet snack.
That tale was 100 percent true. And so is this — last week’s encounter came the morning after my Five Guys food had spent an hour in the car as I drove these leftovers home, anticipating finishing them for the next day’s lunch. When the critter started circling my car, I experienced Bear ja vu. I wasn’t sure my insurance agent would buy this tale a second time.
I decided to take the bold step of going outside to yell at the bear to scare it away. It didn’t work — at first. This bear was not going to be denied a Five Guys meal. Who needs bird seed, I’m sure he’d tell his buddies. Maybe it was my stern voice, but more likely the bear recognized me and knew that I would never leave actual Five Guys food in the car, but he walked away from the vehicle without causing any damage.
That was a relief — until he headed straight for the mudroom door! I was back inside now, but not a moment too soon. A short time later, the creature was peering through the door, probably having figured out that the leftover Five Guys was most likely in the refrigerator.
I managed a few blurry photos of the creature peering into the house, but was careful to keep in mind that old saying: “Bears Looking Through The Door Are Closer Than They Appear.”
When I’ve told folks about this episode, they always ask: How big was he? I tell them, “Not sure of the size, but I’m sure he was as powerful as Five Guys.”
— Brian Sweeney