Springtime Awakenings …

North American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Emerging from the Compost Trail in My Garden (photo taken from inside the house!)

I had a surprise guest in my garden this morning: Ursus americanus, the North American black bear. Long time readers will recall a similar encounter last summer (see photos here). Coincidentally, while sipping my cup of coffee and browsing the morning paper, I was entertained by a story about the Vermont Governor, a bare-naked Peter Shumlin, chasing four black bear from the bird feeders on his backyard porch. I happen to know Governor Shumlin pretty well, and got a bit of a chuckle out of the story (and if you happen to read this Pete, I apologize, but the mental image of your bare butt being chased by bears was quite amusing).

On a more serious note though, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife does issue public warnings each spring, advising residents to remove bird feeders. Hungry bears emerge from hibernation at this time of year and begin to forage for food, and backyard bird feeders are simply too tempting for them to resist. It’s also worth mentioning however, that although bears-at-birdfeeders make headlines, bears and myriad forms of wildlife —including raccoons, possum, coyote and other creatures— are attracted not only to bird seed, but also to compost bins, trash cans, and any other potential food supplies as well; including fresh produce in gardens. The good news is that as Mother Nature’s springtime supply of food increases, bears and other animals will usually retreat back to the forest. Still, at this time of year it’s important to reduce the “free meal” temptation by bringing bird feeders inside and securing trash cans behind closed doors. But what about compost bins? Well the truth is, a hungry bear can destroy most anything in its quest for food. So I’ll likely halt my compost production for at least a short while.

I do enjoy wildlife and although it’s true that a threatened black bear can be dangerous, when viewed from the safety of the house, my passing visitor made for a fascinating and beautiful morning surprise!

Read more about the North American black bear on the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, here.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina for The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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5 Replies to “Springtime Awakenings …”

  1. John

    You are so lucky to be able to see these creatures from your house. I live in a more urban setting and have seen wild turkey, deer, coyote.

    A Governor-bear encounter is funny, but a naked Governor-bear encounter is priceless. I wonder if that will be used in the next election campaign.

  2. Michaela

    @ John – Shumlin vs. Bear does have some bumper-sticker potential for the next campaign. Just imagine contest entries for the tshirt image! Talk about a hoot. And yes indeed, it is amazing to wake up and view bear, turkey, deer, coyote, porcupine, fox and myriad other creatures roaming the garden and surrounding forest-boundary.
    Good to hear from you, and happy spring! M

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela, Sorry to be so late on this. Boy your visitor sure has a lovely looking coat for this time of year; obviously a very healthy animal: ) Great to see them (as long as they’re not eating up my bee hives): xo D.

  4. Michaela

    Hi Deb, He sure is beautiful. Usually, I see bear for a week or so in spring and then for a couple of weeks in late summer/fall (usually when the wild blackberries ripen on the ledges!). I admire them from a very safe distance! xo M

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