The neighbour told me someone else in the area had been confronted by a giant, 200+ lb black bear, who determinedly, yet slowly, approached her while she was out walking. She in turn slowly backed away but he followed, so she tried to make herself big and tall and noisy but still he confidently moved toward her (probably not unlike the curious bear in this video). He was only scared away by a passing truck.
This description sounded eerily like what might happen before a predatory attack. For the first time, I became afraid of what's actually lurking out there, in the woods. I felt somewhat safe because Szuka is always by my side (and she's a big girl), but then I read that dogs can be the worst around bears: some run up to a bear and nip it, then turn around and run back to their owner with the bear in hot pursuit. Szuka, still just an adolescent and fun-loving pup, is goofy enough to do that.
A couple of Instagram friends told me we could interrupt the fruit cycle and still keep the trees. I thought that might be a good idea but suddenly the fruit tree removal seemed very urgent. The persistent little black bear started appearing daily and I was worried he'd bring bigger, even bolder friends. Even though he's small, I knew that he could still do damage if provoked - especially if he took a swipe at Szuka. He tended to appear around the time we went outside to play fetch - and I started to wonder how many times he'd been only a few feet away without us realizing. One night I decided to read about every fatal bear attack in North America in the last hundred years, and it had me wishing for a comforting episode of The Walking Dead. Did you know that a woman was mauled to death in her kitchen when a black bear burst through her window and attacked her?!? Hubby and I decided, definitively, that the trees needed to go. Right now. Luckily, my father-in-law was kind enough to drop what he was doing and come by with a chainsaw. He expertly cut down the trees (digging up the ground around them so the sawed off stump won't protrude) and then we bagged up all of the apples. I still need to cut down and dispose of the heap of branches, but the larger chunks of wood we'll dry out and burn. We mourned the apple trees a little, and the heap of brush has certainly not added curb appeal, but I feel a lot better now that the lure of delicious applies is gone.
The bear will still come back for a bit, out of habit, until he realizes that the apple buffet has officially closed. The neighbours have blueberries that have yet to ripen so it's entirely possible that he'll still be hanging around the area, snacking. Hopefully, though, no additional bears will be drawn to our yard because we never leave out anything tasty. At least by the time our little guest grows to his full size, our apple trees will be a distant memory. In the meantime, I'm not going outside without bear bangers and bear spray, plus I've put a giant bell on Szuka's collar so we don't accidentally crash a teddy bear picnic.
|See ya, little guy.|