Disclaimer: This is not a blog post about how to handle bear encounters.
Lately, my quaint New England town has seen a large number of black bears. Bears are popping up everywhere; bears in the yards; bears on the streets, decks. Soon the bears will be showing up for afternoon barbecues for burgers and beer. A friend of mine even saw Mr. and Mrs. Bear getting-it-on on the side of the local highway. These bears have no shame!
Everyone is surprised; how come there are so many bears, where did they come from? They’re no aliens, these bears. Our woods are their home and natural habitat. They are waking up to all these humans in their back yards prowling around with their expensive lawn mowers, trampolines, and various gadgets, so Mr. and Mrs. Bear are naturally curious, who’s come to visit?
Humans are also bringing these delicious foods into their homes. Who can resist half eaten steak, cake, and potato from the last night's dinner? Bears certainly can’t. They come and go shopping. All this food, pre-packaged in the bags, neatly tied and ready for taking. Mrs. Bear likes!
And on the other end are us, humans, going about our business, and suddenly there is a huge hunk of a bear in our yard. Our small children are playing basketball right there, small enough for a bear to call them a snack, especially my five-year-old. My older one is skinny so that he would be chewy for the bear and the bear does not like chewy.
What to do?
Experts say: don’t run, make yourself big, and make noise. This advice, naturally, is going against my most natural instincts. If I see a large animal like that, I ain’t staying for a chat or a chance for him or her to take a nibble. Yes, a nibble is possible apparently. Experts advise should the bear come towards you anyway (regardless of how big you tried to make yourself), you should lie down, roll into a ball shape and pretend to be dead. Bear may sniff you and take a nibble and walk away. No thanks!
And running is another matter entirely. I run in my neighborhood in the mornings. Mr. Bear visited the other day. If I see him on my morning run, what should I do? I cannot, “not run.” I am already running. Should I continue? Turn around? Climbing trees won’t help, as the bears can climb better than us humans. Instead, recently I decided to play my New Kids on The Block songs on my phone, loudly, mind you, during my runs. No headphones for me, people! If you want to know what I like to listen to when running, just run behind me, we will be taking strides to “Step by Step” and enjoy the awesomeness of Jordan, Joey, Donnie, Jon and Danny(Note: If you are not thirty-five years old or older, you may need to google NKOTB.)
So, bears are here to stay. I am certain that 2017 is the year they decided to come out of the shadows and claim their country back. Make America Bears’ Again!