Last June, Jay Rhind of Stockbridge just finished his bike ride when he turned into his driveway and found a car parked there. Two people in the car told him that a bear just jumped through his front screened door and was inside.
Jay immediately called 911 then started his recon. Peeking through the kitchen window he saw nothing out of place. He walked around to the back door and noticed a crushed empty ice cream container (Vanilla Haggen Dazs) on the ground and then he noticed the back screen door had been pushed through. He figured that the bear entered the front door, found the ice cream, exited out the back door and went on his way. He slowly entered the house and found himself instinctively on high alert as he rounded the corner entering the kitchen. Just then he saw a big Black Bear exiting. He was in what seemed like a very long standstill between the bear and himself, both frozen in their tracks. The “Fight” in the “Fight or Flight” clearly wasn’t an option as he wasn’t about to start bear wrestling in his kitchen wearing bike shorts without a referee. Instead he quickly decided to plan for his “Flight”- he’d turn and bolt out the back door slamming it behind him before the bear had any idea what was happening. He barely (no pun by Jay) made a move to turn for the back door when, in an instant, the bear took his cue and raced past him and jumped out the front door leaving that overpowering musky black bear scent behind. Somehow in the middle of all this Jay thought he should take a few photos because no one would ever believe him. He whipped out his trusty iPhone, composed a photo and pressed the button. “photo library full, clear space to take photos” was all the screen showed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Jay thought to himself. He rapidly pressed delete, delete, delete and took a picture. Not his best photo but under the circumstances…..
After the bear ran past him and jumped out the front door it spun around resting his paws on the door’s lower edge ready to jump back in. Jay yelled “NO BEAR NO!” as he got down. He jumped up again, again “NO BEAR NO!” This happened a few times before the bear realized that he must be dealing with a mad man (Jay’s words) and decided to walk away out through the back yard. Jay walked back to the kitchen to assess the damage. A loaf of bread was on the counter untouched, and their little yellow canary with all his bird seed next to the refrigerator was also untouched (although the canary hasn’t been right since). Then Jay noticed the freezer door slightly ajar with muddy claw prints on the edge. He couldn’t believe it. The bear walked past the bread and bird seed and went straight for the freezer, opened the door, removed the Haagen Dazs and had what appeared to be a very nice treat. After this incident at Jay’s house, the police were called for similar events nearby where bears had entered houses. This particular bear however had his routine down. Head for the freezer, eat ice cream. According to Jay, it became known as Public Nuisance #1, Hoggin Paws the Bear.
Jay wrote to Ben and Jerry’s, thinking maybe “BEARly Vanilla” might work, but never heard back.
DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden said a bear broke into about a dozen residences in the area last summer and there were multiple reports that it went to the freezers after ice cream. The Stockbridge police were actively involved and asked for assistance from DFW. The difficulty was being there at the right time to nab the suspect. DFW trapped a bear in the neighborhood but they couldn’t determine if it was the right bear. Usually troublesome bears are male juveniles, but the one they trapped, marked with an ear tag and relocated was a female. There have been plenty of bear sightings since but no further incidences.
According to Madden, a bear actively trying to get into residences is a serious issue, not good for bear or people. Fortunately it came to an end, whether it was a result of their trapping or the result of the changing of people’s behavior. That bear is lucky to still be around.
MassWildlife says that now is time to take down birdfeeders and other sources of food. Bears will often ignore natural foods such as skunk cabbage and head to a bird feeder for an easy meal. Once it gets food from a feeder, garbage can, or open compost, it will revisit the site and look for similar foods in other yards. Conflicts can arise that pose hazards to both bears and people. They encourage people to view their new video about Black Bears as well as their revised website section which addresses living with Black Bears and preventing conflicts.*****