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Gumboot Nation: The local bear with a taste for brie

And the bear-scaring qualities of Carmina Burana
Black bear

Greetings Creekers! 

Well, it’s that time of year when our lumbering friends like to do garden tours and so it’s time for a bear story. For the past couple of years, we were regularly visited by a large and very shy bear. All you had to do was utter a soft “BOO!” and it quietly retreated. We named it “Mr. Tiptoe.” But a number of years ago, when we were not as smart as we are now and kept our freezer on the deck, (sooo not on!) we looked out to see a more brazen bear happily knawing its way through my frozen organic chickens. That really pushed my buttons so casting fear aside, I stomped on to the deck waving a broom and yelling. The bear just regarded me calmly and moved to a different part of the deck where it resumed its feast. Then we remembered our outdoor speakers (the kind neighbours love). The loudest piece of music I could think of was Carmina Burana. It worked like a charm, that bear was off like a shot and since then we refer to that fabulous Carl Orff piece as “Carmina Bearana.” If you are familiar with it you will understand and if you aren’t, check it out, it might come in handy for you. Of course, other loud music could work. In fact, maybe we should make a compilation of Music to Scare Bears With. It could be a fundraiser! Oh, but I digress. Really what I wanted to tell you was that a bear entered our neighbour’s kitchen yesterday. She returned from the beach, with her grandson, and there it was. They retreated to the safety of a garden cabin and watched until it was finished and took its leave. It turned out to be quite a respectful bear with refined taste. It didn’t destroy anything or make a huge mess. It just enjoyed a feast of brie and chocolate and took its leave. Now many of you will have bear stories with very different and less happy endings so here are somethings to consider. The bear that entered my neighbour’s house did so by opening an unlocked sliding glass door. They are also very adept at opening doors with lever style handles. You might want to keep those locked too.  

Then there are all the other things we know bears like, such as garbage and compost and tree fruit. It’s hard to predict but we need to do our best to protect them and us. The last time we know a bear visited us it was quite disappointed until it discovered our empty five-gallon water jug and had a field day chewing plastic.  

I didn’t know that I was going to write this today. It just happened because I didn’t have much else. Had I planned it, I would have contacted the Bear Aware people and had some more important tips but this issue isn’t going away so maybe that’s a future column. In the meantime, I have heard that bears do not like the smell of Pine Sol (I’m with them on that). 

I will close with a personal dilema: to sleep on the deck or not to sleep on the deck? Until this recent incident I have successfully ignored the possibility of an encounter. My partner says he’s not sleeping out there with me now because every time I hear a noise, I will wake him up. So maybe it will just be me and an air horn. I’ll let you know. 

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