Friday, July 27, 2007

Afternoon Delight

I thought you might not believe me if I went on about our visitors without posting a picture or two. I think this mama was here before. We have no bird feeders up anymore, but she remembered where they had been. She stood up on the trunk of this corner pine looking for seed. She and her cubs wandered around in the yard a while before taking a dip in our tiny pond; a drink was in order, too (this is a cub, below. Sorry about the bad quality of these pics - I was a bit excited).

Then Mama took a stroll through the flower bed before exiting the yard and heading down the back street.

A stop at our trash container was disappointing and she headed to the neighbors, her babies following.

She didn't find anything to eat here, and will undoubtedly visit many trash receptacles after ours.

It is a pity; how can their numbers increase when their territory and food supply is supposedly decreasing? Human beings have been building for hundreds of years on this continent and bear habitat abounds. Why are they in our cities? Why are the big cats in California cities? The bears must have something to gain by being here; food. If they didn't find food, they would leave. If they didn't get enough to raise families of 3 cubs, they would decrease in number.

I can tell you this much; our town does nothing at all to encourage the bears to take up residence elsewhere. Animal Control does nothing about bears. Biologists and naturalists in the area all say the same thing. Stop feeding them.

Well, humans will never stop feeding them, if what is meant is: don't put things into your trash that smell of food; don't hang a bird feeder in your yard; don't grow berry bushes; rake up your acorns as soon as they fall or stop planting oak trees. Asking us to deal with these wild animals is not reasonable. We have neither the skills nor the knowledge to do anything about this situation except adapt our lives to living with the bears. Our neighbors have small children who should be able to play safely in their yards, and I want to enjoy my backyard birds. Hungry bears eat small game and one mauled a dog in a nearby neighborhood recently.

Even a fence is no deterrent. Witness this bear in our yard in May; she is standing on the fence to pull down the feeder. She entered the yard from the opposite side and climbed this fence. This house is over ninety years old, as is the neighborhood. We didn't just build here. Somewhere in the mountains above us, where new housing continues, there was a place for bears. When we build to the mountain tops, bears can only come down. They really need to be moved I think, and dealt with humanely, before we build on their last remaining land on a particular mountain. America has plenty of room for bears and people.

We took down all our feeders in May, the day this bear visited at around 9 or 10 in the morning. We have been avid backyard birders for over 40 years. This is something we love. We have enjoyed having nesting pairs nearby and seeing their young being fed and maturing. When we were hanging up our nine (9) feeders daily, we also took them in each night, because bears were known to visit well after dark. Often our birdbaths are overturned when we awaken and our pond virtually empty. Now we cannot feed birds at all.

We tried putting feeders out near the patio just when we were sitting there. But the birds have left, gone elsewhere. By the time one finds our feeder again, it's time to run inside for a meal, for the phone, or something else; and then the feeders have to come in, too. That is no way to enjoy the birds, and we are unhappy about that.

These animals are beautiful, and if we truly respect them, it seems to me that we should, as a community, admit there is a problem and address it.


(I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures - I was excitedly running from one window to another in my house to get them.)

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