bear at the chicken coop!

A few days ago, a good-sized black bear visited our chicken coop. It's very unusual to see bears so close to the house here. Since they're hunted in the woods around us, most learn to avoid contact with humans and dogs. This particular bear, though, was obviously accustomed to foraging in garbage cans.... The photo here shows the west side of our chicken coop, where we store feed in metal cans.

One evening around dusk, we heard a commotion among the chickens, and saw a bear in their pasture. He'd just knocked over one of the cans of feed.

The chickens found this very exciting--a bunch of them came over to peck at the feed, totally oblivious to the bear, who fortunately wasn't interested in them, either.

I yelled at the bear, who looked at me like a kid caught with his hand in a cookie jar: Busted!

After dashing into the house for some firecrackers and matches, I walked down into the pasture toward the cans of feed, setting off firecrackers and shouting "hey bear, go away!"

In retrospect, this seems ridiculous, but it worked. By the time I reached the cans, the bear was gone.

The next day, I took this close-up photo, showing a muddy claw print on the wall, and toothmarks on can lids.

Wish I'd got a picture of chickens and bear together, but at the time Bill wasn't home, and I was busy with the fireworks.

The bear did come back another evening. Bill fired a shotgun in the air a couple of times, and we haven't seen the animal since.

I think this is partly due to the loud noises, and the presence of us humans and our dogs, but also because our garbage cans didn't hold anything the bear wanted to eat. He made a heckuva mess with the chicken feed but apparently didn't see it as food.

We temporarily moved the cans into the coop, and hope not to see another bear here anytime soon. It's good to have bears in the woods--not so good in the pasture!

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