WATER-GARDEN EXPERTS recommend adding plants, fish, and perhaps tadpoles, to an aquatic backyard habitat, but here’s a bolder idea: Add a black bear. That’s the little duckweed-covered frogpond (and sedum in the foreground, covering most of the stones) situated barely 15 feet from my door, with its latest part-time resident. No kidding. Rub-a-dub-dub, Ursus americanus. Be sure to wash behind your ears.
When I voiced my objection loudly, the bear simply scrambled up the hill, ripped some twigs off a crabapple for a snack (below), then lumbered across the yard to one of my century-old apples. (By the way: The pool without the bear in it, an older photo, is at the bottom of the page for perspective.)
In about 4 seconds it had climbed 25 feet high into the uppermost crown of the tallest tree. (That’s it on the way back down, below, from a distance–I had gone back inside after the first verbal scolding.)
Next was an attempted nap on the grass, in the tree’s shade—but I interrupted that plan with more negative verbal feedback, and it ambled off, presumably to climb a tree trunk beside my 8-foot fence and drop down to the other side, away from the aggravation of my voice for the moment.
I don’t mean to be flip about living in bear country, which requires vigilant attention and respect for these animals as for all wildlife. In a typical year, bears visit here at night a couple or few times a season, knocking down a piece of fence on the way in and tossing things about in search of food, leaving big pawprints in the garden (and sometimes on the porch, too, if the ground was wet with rain or dew).
This year, bolder encounters by a number of different individuals have been happening locally by day along our road, meaning these bears have grown habituated to us humans and our home environments–not ideal. I’d prefer they go back on the night shift, but I’m not sure I’m the boss.