Here's The Scoop: June 18, 2014

Nearly Unbearable
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.
A bruin who is clearly disgusted by my failure to include him in my Five Guys burger run.A bruin who is clearly disgusted by my failure to include him in my Five Guys burger run.
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.

Unwelcome mat
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