10 Minutes - Exciting Day!

Hi. It's Joe.

I saw my first real live black bear in the wild today. It was both thrilling and terrifying. Rationally, I know that black bears are generally afraid of people unless they are protecting young.

This bear didn't seem to have any cubs tagging along. I am up at the cottage with my parents, sister, niece and nephew. We went on a family bike ride around Shell Lake, where the cottage is located. It's about 10 miles around. We took the long way around the lake into town and ate lunch at the Pottery Shed Cafe, before finishing the last two (2) miles back to the cabin.

We were almost back to the cabin, on E. Lake Drive, when the bear ran across the road about 50 yards ahead of us. We all stopped in amazement and watched as it disappeared into the woods on the other side of the road - going in the opposite direction from the cabin, thank goodness!

After it disappeared, we rode on, making lots of noise by yelling and beeping our bike horns. Supposedly, you are supposed to make a lot of noise to scare off bears. I guess it worked (as well as tiger repellent) because we saw no more of the black bear.

Just about my entire family has seen black bears in this part of Wisconsin while driving or biking, except for me. Usually they are spotted far away from our cottage. This one was really close though, emerging from the wooded area bordering our cottage property on the north side.

A black bear has been reported in this area, but few have seen more than circumstantial evidence of it - claw marks on bird feeders and spilled trash cans, etc. This was an eye witness sighting and so I have fulfilled my wish to see a black bear in the flesh. It was cool, and also a little bit scary, since it was so close.

Over Labor Day weekend, I'll have a handful of friends up to the cottage for the family friendly bike ride I host, called BIKE WITH MELINDA. I am hopeful that the participants may get a chance to see a black bear in its natural element, if they want to. At the same time, I'd prefer it if they encountered any such bear farther away from the cottage than this one was.

Black bears around here are relatively harmless to people, as I said earlier. They are scared off by noise and generally view humans as a threat. However, my visiting friends will mostly be camping out in the yard of the cottage, so I'll have to make sure no one leaves any food or garbage in their tents. I should probably give everyone the option to sleep on the floor inside the cottage if they have trepidation about coming face to face with a black bear, however irrational the fear of that is.

Seeing the black bear was cool though.


1 comment:

Grant said...

Very cool!

I used to encounter black bears all the time at close range while hiking in Yosemite. One time, I stepped over a log early in the morning and one was sleeping behind the log! We saw each other at the same time, but the bear was even more scared than I was and shot straight up a tree, where it stayed for the rest of the day because of the commotion from the waking campers below. On the other hand, a youngish one bluff-charged me and stopped just a few feet short, scaring the **** out of me. Fortunately, that was the rare exception .. most were extremely timid.