In earlier years, the only time I saw a bear around Brant Lake was when we were both scavenging at the town dump. (Now given the more sophisticated name of the town landfill.) The bear was exploring one pile of litter, probably hunting for food, and I was searching for discarded antiques, also known as junk, on a neighboring pile.
Times have changed. Now bears come into town and even onto private property. (Unable to read the “Do not trespass” signs.) Once we were free of intruders in our vegetable gardens–even though the space was wide open and not protected. According to those in the know, the presence of horses in the nearby stables acted as a deterrent to deer, coyotes, and rabbits. But, in recent days, the animals invaded our vegetables and we noticed little bites taken out of a tomato or a baby squash that disappeared overnight.
However, the worst invader was a bear who did not visit our home but did visit the home of our neighbor, Jerry. That bear had expanded his territory well beyond the landfill!
How did Jerry know it was a bear that harvested beans and other vegetables from his garden? Well, first there were the bear tracks, although I would not be able to identify bear tracks. Then there were the photographs. Jerry had fixed a night camera to the side of his house and that camera took snapshots of any night visitors.
The bear was caught in the lens standing on his back legs and helping himself to the beans. Jerry realized it was time for a fence! So Jerry spent several days encircling the garden with a wire fence equipped with a stretch of barbed wire at the top. Finally, he could sleep securely and dream of the harvest he would gather in the morning but, upon awakening, the camera photographed the bear back inside the garden devouring the newly ripened bounty.
How did the bear enter with all of the strategic deterrence that Jerry had placed? Unlike deer, bears are not known to jump over a 7-foot fence and unlike rabbits they are too large to squeeze through the tiny openings at the foot of the fence.
With mounting anger Jerry went outside and circled the fence intent on discovering the answer to the mystery. There were no signs of forced entry and after making almost a complete circle of the garden Jerry approached the carefully constructed gate. This gate was enhanced by strong metal hinges and a brass handle. Surprise! The gate was open. Certainly bears cannot open gates–even with their massive claws.
What had happened? Jerry realized that after constructing the fence he had forgotten to close the gate and the grateful bear marched in without any obstacle. From that time on Jerry instructed everyone, if you want closure in any part of your life don’t leave the gate open.