The Last Windrow: This uninvited guest totally ignored safety protocols

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It didn't wear a mask and it wasn't social distancing. Our visitor last week paid us a visit in broad daylight and seated itself directly upon the wild flower garden planted by our daughter this past spring. A rather rude way to pay a visit to a neighbor.

The visitor of which I write was a yearling black bear. I know not its sex, but I do know that it enjoys eating sunflower seeds out of our bird feeder. I arose from my noon nap to gaze out our kitchen window to find this critter snuffing and licking the seeds as fast as its tongue would allow.

We've seen this bear before and my wife has adoringly named it Boo Boo after the Yogi Bear cartoon. We also have a Yogi who is Boo Boo's size times two. Both of these fuzzy looking critters have done damage to our bird feeding exercises.

I called my wife to the window thinking she would utter some verbal abuse at Boo Boo; but no, instead she pried her phone camera out of her pocket and took the bear's picture. She would later send it over our social media channels to almost everyone we know. The picture received lots of comments.

Bears were a rarity around these parts up until about five or six years ago. In years long past, deer hunters were issued a bear license along with their deer tags. No more. Now one must apply for a special bear hunting permit.


It seems to me that the bears must like this piece of legislation. They have propagated to the point where it is not unusual to see these critters of the deep forest on a regular basis. Conservation officers report many nuisance bear complaints where the bears are climbing into garbage dumpsters and wreaking havoc on anything containing food.

Bears learn fast where the easy vittles lie. Our family was camped in Glacier National Park one year and we were unpacking our van. Our food was stored in a red and white cooler. As we were assembling the eats for the evening, two park officers strolled by. One of them came over to our picnic table and said, "Folks, if you want to preserve your cooler, put it back inside your camper when you're done with it. We have a black bear around here who knows what a red and white cooler is and I'll guarantee you that the bear can get to your cooler before you do. Our woods are strewn with red and white coolers."

We put the cooler back in the camper.

I would encourage everyone to pay a visit to the black bear information center in Ely some day. There you can see bears up close and personal and the information given is very interesting. They have or had a large live black bear in the exhibit. I was amazed when the bear was given a bunch of grapes. The bear sat up on his haunches and proceeded to pick the grapes, one by one, from the bunch and gently insert them between its canines.

I thought I was watching a human for a minute or two.

A large sow bear strolled through our front yard earlier this summer. Tagging along behind her were four - yes, four - chubby, well-developed fuzzy cubs. As they passed by our picture window we smiled at the thought that these cubs were to be our neighbors. Then the thought crossed our minds of our bird feeders. The little rascals will no doubt pay us a visit sometime in the future.

Growing up on the farm I never thought I would be living in close proximity to wild bears. There were very few predators allowed to exist in farm country. Even hawks were looked on with disdain. The only thing I ever saw my dad shoot at was a hawk that was circling our chicken coop and a couple of crows that he thought were stealing his seed corn.

I wonder what my family then would have thought of having a black bear for a neighbor. He missed the hawk, by the way.


Boo Boo didn't wear a mask or practice social distancing last week when he raided our bird feeder and sat on our flowers. He likes to be close to humans.

See you next time. Okay? Stay safe!

John Wetrosky - Last Windrow.jpg

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