Local Bear Arrested

A teenage black bear, Ursus americanus, has been frequenting the neighbourhood until he was arrested earlier today.

2004 July 08

I just got home. Coming down Burkes Road I passed an MNR truck with our friendly neigbourhood bear in a cage on the back. Another teenage delinquent has been arrested.

Young Black Bear outside living room window

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The first time I saw this bear, I was on the phone. I looked out the window and there he was on our deck. By the time I got my camera, he had retreated to the lawn. This was shot through our living room window.

This young black bear has been hanging around since early May and has included our yard as part of his regular territory. Not only is our yard part of his territory, but so is our deck and porch. One day, Diana and I were in the screened portion of our porch, just finishing our lunch. Who should show up but our friend, the bear. He had crossed over from the deck on the adjacent side of the house and was now investigating the porch, slowly making his way towards us. He was sniffing the table, the chairs, the floor, the barbeque, but seemed oblivious to our presence. When he was about 15 feet away, I moved slightly in my chair causing it to creak. He looked right at us but I don't think he could discern us through the screen. But he decided to leave anyway and jumped down onto the lawn and continued moseying along. He would occasionally glance in our direction but without apparent recognition. What is surprising is that he didn't smell us — or perhaps, he did and just didn't care.

The previous week he had also walked right by me, again without acknowledging my presence, while I was sitting outside reading a book. When you're not used to it, it is quite disconcerting to look up from your book to see a bear almost within reach. On another occasion, Diana had surprised the bear through the dining room window. When they saw each other, they both started. But when Diana didn't move — she just stood still at the window — he decided she wasn't a threat and continued grazing on the fresh grass. As an experiment, Diana slowly started to ease the window open; it made a noise and he was gone in a flash.

We conclude his eye sight isn't very good, but his hearing is. His sense of smell doesn't seem very good either — maybe he's got pollen allergies.

Young Black Bear investigating vacant lot

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A couple of weeks later, my camera and I again encountered the bear. This time he was checking out the vacant lot down the street.

While all of this was very entertaining, he wasn't always fun to have around. This spring we had transplanted a lilac, and because it was initially under severe water stress (not quite enough roots) I had set up a sun shade. Clearly this offended the bear's sense of aesthetics, so he shredded it. Then he moved on to the hanging pots of petunias and trashed them. And the night before his arrest, he had trashed another hanging pot of petunias. (He must be an Algonquin Park bear — if it's associated with people and it's hanging from a tree, it must be good to eat.)

I don't know what his fate will be, but at least in the short run, he is still alive. That is good. But yesterday morning, while cleaning up the petunias, I might not have been so sympathetic.