Bear Proof


Hubby is 6 feet, 220 Lbs – gives you an idea of the bear’s size…

Some people who live in the country only deal with the small predators like foxes, or the aerial predators like hawks. Of course, we have those, but we also have the fun (she said with tongue firmly in cheek) of dealing with the big ones. In addition to coyotes and bobcats, we now have at least one wolf in the neighborhood. Then there are the cougars – one of which has been snacking on the neighbor’s goats for the last few weeks. Finally, there are the bears.

Mr. Bobcat made the mistake of coming to call on the chickens during the morning hours.

In 2013, California politicians passed a law that bears (and other predators like cougars) cannot be hunted with dogs. In essence, that means the bear population has no curb. My husband predicted that within about three years, the bear population would explode, and that’s exactly what happened. Five years later, we have bears bloody everywhere. Rumor has it that one guy who lives across the valley shot more than a dozen bears that invaded his front yard in one year. Even allowing for a certain amount of exaggeration, that’s a lot of bears. This is the kind of thing that happens when those who make the laws don’t have a clue about what goes on outside their city streets. Cougars have also proliferated and are regularly seen in a nearby town of 100,000 – in backyards and on a popular hiking trail.

Chicken tractor after bear attack.

Bears tend to be more of a pain than the others for several reasons. First, they are attracted to garbage, while the other critters mostly go after live animals like chickens, sheep or the family pets. Cougars will also attack calves and colts, which is one reason we try to ensure our cows calve after the deer drop their fawns. Bears like the kind of stuff that you have around your house – like the aforementioned garbage or the scrap buckets that come home from the school. And bears have no problem at all tearing apart buckets, grain bags or even chicken coops to get at the contents. Finally, bears get habituated to humans pretty quickly and lose their fear, which can make them dangerous, as some Yellowstone tourists have discovered to their cost.

That’s not snow on the ground!

Since I don’t have pigs right now and won’t until we finish several major building projects – including the new pigpen – we aren’t getting grain screenings from the local mill. But our old stallion, at age 31, needs extra calories in the form of sweet feed and alfalfa pellets. Bears love both, especially the sweet feed, which is a mixture of rolled corn, oats, barley and molasses. It irritates me to walk out the door and find sweet feed scattered all over from a torn sack. Not to mention that I’d just as soon not walk out and be face to face with a bear, as happened once. So we’ve been locking the sacks in the wash-house, which makes for pretty tight quarters. Then hubby discovered these barrels. They hold three 50-pound sacks of feed. The lids screw on. Short of dynamite or dropping the backhoe bucket on one of them, they won’t break. They’re a little deep for reaching into, but hubby fixed that with a long-handled can scoop.

Bear proof and proud of it!

Nice to have a handy hubby.

Take that, bears.

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