Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bear Hunt

Wow. I go away for a couple days and come back to all hell breakin' loose. Apparently there's been a female black bear with 3 cubs hanging out on the fringes of the campground, pestering campers out there, looking for food. One family said they were sitting at their picnic table making s'mores and two of the cubs came right into their site and up to their table, one swiping the box of graham crackers and the other snatching a Hershey bar, which it proceeded to unwrap and eat out of hand just like a human being. Now, I always think it's a privilege to see a bear, especially cubs, but this is getting a bit much. Next night another camping family was cooking fish they'd caught in the lake. My husband told them they'd damn well better not leave fish heads etc. outdoors anywhere, even inside their vehicle. Well, sure enough, whether from garbage or just the smell of fish cooking, along came the female, and when the guy yelled at her and tried to shoo her away, she bluff-charged him. (This is when a bear runs at you but then screeches to a halt a few feet from you, just to give you a hint that you're getting aggravating.) Steve and the other rangers reported her and her bluff-charge to Maryland Wildlife Management, who said, "Well, we don't want to be harming the bears.... if she does anything else, let us know." LIKE WHAT??? 
We've had 3 separate campers now leave after just one night because they're scared. Last night one of the other camp host couples got up at 3a.m. to move a family of scared tent campers into a cabin.... the same female kept coming into their campground, sniffing their tent, rummaging around. They left today too.
Now, in general, black bears raid garbage cans and break down bird feeders and are nuisance animals which avoid direct contact with humans; and in general I think folks are too paranoid about them. But this sow is getting a little too bold and brassy. Bluff-charging and all. Apparently Wildlife finally agreed after last night.
So Wildlife called in ... (ominous music playing... ) The Schrock Boys. With their Bear Dogs. Now, you'd have to see the Schrock Boys to appreciate this. There was a picture of them in the local paper last year, and if it hadn't been a color photo, you'd have sworn it was taken in 1850. Maybe of Hatfields or McCoys. Big huge redneck guys in overalls and beat-up hillbilly hats, chest-length beards, no-nonsense glowering looks on their faces, and multiple hound dogs on leashes. Yup, so the Schrock Boys were out here today. We didn't see 'em but we heard the dogs baying and carrying on,  and every now and then, a huge booming shot that sounded like it came from a muzzle-loader. This would be rubber buckshot to whing the bear in the ass and hopefully clue her in that this is not a nice area to hang out. They also shot bullets  which whizz and scream through the air like bottle rockets and then explode into fireworks, hopefully to scare her away from the area. The dogs bayed in one place without moving for a long time... must have treed one. It was all happening not a quarter mile away, up around the hiking trails that I police for trash. Every bit as entertaining as the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon, even just to listen to.
I'd have loved to go up and watch but Bear Huntin' with the Schrock Boys ain't no spectator sport.


Rachel said...

Are they going to kill the bears? That's so sad! Can't they just relocate them? Sometimes, DNR is just really annoying.

Congrats on the marathon! Just read your race report. What an accomplishment. I love the lessons at the bottom. I agree about going sans make-up. Besides, running gives us all a healthy glow! And, you're right--we all take it way too seriously. It should be fun!

Ellie said...

No, killing them is not the idea. Getting them to move away is the goal. Bears will often avoid a place where something unpleasant happened. Relocating is the next step, but it's iffy... trapping and moving the bears, especially a female with cubs. There's no way they'd be able to trap all of them, and if they just relocate the female the cubs will be left. They eat other food but need the mother to fend for them and teach them how to be bears. Only if humans are directly threatened would shooting it be an option.

Vickie said...

Man, what an adventurous life you are living.