My Years With Black Bears
When I was married, I lived in the middle of the woods and maintained a 225-acre wildlife sanctuary for black bears although everyone was welcome - raccoons, foxes, porcupines, skunks, squirrels, etc. I was known as the "Bear lady of Danbury". Some people thought I was nuts to get so close to the bears and others wondered about the obvious connection I had with them. To those who were skeptical, I had the standard response: "I have been verbally, physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and sexually abused by people, so I'll take my chances with wild animals any day. Every six seconds in the US, a woman is verbally or physically assaulted. It makes me wonder why people are considered civilized and animals wild".
And there were those who brought up the rabies issue, but black bears don't carry rabies. Again, my response to that comment was well, what about aids and std's. I refuse to live my life in fear and resent it when folks impose their fears on me. The truth of the matter is that I have enough fears of my own without folks imposing their fears on me. Animals are not to be feared, but people are a different story.
Humans just don't understand about love. The bears and I really loved each other, and when I use the word love, I mean compassion, acceptance, consideration, tolerance and kindness.....nothing sexual. I have witnessed animals loving each other and they never turn on each other the way humans do. Oh, darling I love you and then bam!.....the insults, swearing, disregard, humiliation, degradation, abuse.....animals don't do this to each other.
My experiences with black bears have been very positive and rewarding. They are very intelligent, patient, kind, inquisitive, playful and loving creatures. My home has been their home. I have learned that whether we have two or four legs that we are all God's Children who have come to earth to live in harmony with each other. If we open our minds, and most importantly our hearts, we will be able to hear what our four-legged friends have to tell us.
Bears love to eat. Can you imagine eating 16 to 20 pounds of food everyday with the intention of getting fat to survive the winter months? They love birdseed, beech nuts, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, donuts, cookies, apples, acorns, clover, corn on the cob and ants, among other things.
They can be rascals too and steal stuff. One day I came home from shopping and was unloading the car. I had a 50-pound bag of bird seed in the back of the car, which I was going to bring onto the porch. The phone rang and I answered it. When I returned to the car, the bag of birdseed was gone. I always felt safe in the middle of the woods because my bear friends were always around and watching out for me.
Another time, I left an unopened bag of bird seed in the barn. All the doors were closed except for a 48-inch square window. When a three hundred pound bear tries to squeeze through the window, it isn't going to be the bear that gives way. Mission successful.....50 pound bag of birdseed inhaled!
When I was married, my husband was addicted to marijuana and munched on candy bars. Well, the bears were attracted to the smells in his car and climbed all over it trying to get the weed or candy. Oftentimes, they left their claw marks on the bumper and hood. Ops! He didn't learn..........
When my husband was out of town, my friends came to my home for dinner and entertainment. The bears were the entertainment. We would sit outside on chairs, buckets, or on the boulders and the bears would come right up to us. Everyone had their donuts or cookies to give to the bears. One day, my girlfriend's husband drove up unexpectedly to see the bears. He wasn't a happy camper - in fact, he was an angry person, so the bears wouldn't come out of the woods, but as soon as he drove off, they came out of the woods.
I was able to not only talk to the bears, but feed and touch them. Sometimes, we would just sit on a rock together enjoying the closeness. Pandar would sit in the field like a Buddha and watch the sunset. I had an extensive flower garden and the bears loved to smell, and sometimes eat, the flowers.
Honeybun was one of my most favorite bears. The fellow who designed our house wanted it to look like a tree house, so there was a ramp leading to the front door. Every morning, Honeybun would wander up the ramp and stand at the front door. I would open the door and ask him to wait for me on the rock beside the ramp. He would turn around and do as I asked. Amazing, I thought, he understood my every word. When we sat on "his" rock, I would place donuts and birdseed on it and he would happily munch away.
So many folks around here regard bears as a nuisance, but really they are very peaceful creatures and want to live in harmony with us. How would you like it if someone came along and pushed you out of your home? This is what we have been doing to animals for years. We thoughtless humans have been displacing them for years and expecting them to go away and leave us alone. Animals do the best they can to adapt to the changes that we arrogant humans impose on them.
At one time, I had 19 black bears around my house - 12 males, 2 mothers and 5 cubs. The moms would leave their cubs under my care by leaving them underneath my kitchen window. I would go out and talk to and feed the little guys. Everyone got along because there was enough food for everyone.
I loved and trusted my bears and they loved and trusted me. I promised that I would never hurt them and did my very best to shelter them from the hunters. Everyday, they showed up at my house and the young males would play with each other in the field. I have videos of them playing - more than 12 of them - and as soon as I find someone to convert the VHS to CD, I'll post the videos. (videos are being converted, come back soon).
Pandar was the patriarch of Poverty Pond. He was the very first bear to introduce himself to me. Honeybun was the next one and then Simon and Aaron. Joshua and his brother, Tyko, were left on my doorstep by their mother. The mother bears would wean their cubs when they were about 18 months old and I became their surrogate mother.
There was Mitchell who was killed by a hunter who trespassed on my property and when confronted, tried to threaten me. Hunters knew what I was doing, and although the land was posted with signs every 5 feet, they didn't care. Numerous times I had to call the police and the Fish and Game Department, especially after someone took a shot at me. The F and G tried to tell me that I was breaking the law, but I told them that they have no right to tell me what I can and cannot do on my property. After a few blow outs with the FG, they backed off and even came to me for help. There was a marauding bear in the neighborhood and the FG guy came to my house waving a white flag. He got out of his car and said that he came in peace. I don't know what you do, or how you do it, but we need your help he said. There was a marauding bear in town who was scaring people. He's hungry, I said. Well, if he doesn't leave, we will have no other choice but to kill him. I knew the bear he was talking about and in my mind's eye, pictured him and send him a message to leave immediately or he was going to be killed. I looked at the officer and told him that the bear would leave the area. I was happy to help save a life. After that incident, I didn't have any more trouble with hunters.
Paco had the biggest ears I’ve ever seen on a bear – they were more like donkey ears. Damian was what men referred to as a trophy bear – big and perfect. And then there was Demetrius, the biggest bear I have ever seen. He wasn’t a regular, but would come and go as he pleased. Others who showed up on a regular basis were Prince, Ezarekiel, Micah, Scout and Zachery. I want you to know that I didn’t make up any of these names. I checked what I got with an animal intuitive. I would show her a picture and ask her if she could tell me the bear’s name. The only name I had trouble getting was Ezarekiel.
When I moved away in 2001, I sold my house to a woman who not only loved the bears, but took care of them for me. And, when she sold the house a few years later, the bears left the area.
I am ever so grateful for the years I spent with these magnificent animals. They will be in my heart forever.