It’s late at night. The skies are clear and light from the first full moon of spring is shining in the windows. You’ve just settled into bed when suddenly you hear the sound of footsteps rustling the leaves behind your tiny house. You sit up, listening intently as the rustling gets louder and louder – multiple feet heading straight toward your house. Thinking you must have visitors, maybe some campers who lost their way, you head downstairs. Just as you reach the front door you hear loud thumping, shuffling and snuffling noises on your porch. The full moon is so brilliant you don’t need the porch light to make out who has stopped by and is now checking out your house:
Photo credit: National Park Service.
Last night we were visited by a mother black bear and her THREE cubs! I’m guessing the cubs must have been about 1 to 2 years old because they were almost as big as she was. They played around the yard, drank the water out of the French drain, walked on the porch, rolled around on the wood pile, ripped open a garbage bag full of old plastic and cardboard – and then left.
It was breathtaking to see the black bears close up. You are suppose to make loud noises (like banging pots and pans together) when you see a bear in order to scare them off, but Chase and I were a bit frozen. Having them so close, literally on the other side of the door, and it being a mother and her cubs, made us cautious. I know black bears are typically docile and run away, but I wasn’t sure if the mother would just get angry and charge the house – testing the strength of our front door. They stayed for less than ten minutes, playing in the moonlight and checking things out. We turned on the porch light thinking it would scare them off, but they weren’t phased by the light at all. That’s actually when one of the cubs decided to stand up and look in the door window!
They were not aggressive, just curious. I regret being too shocked to take an actual picture! We moved our tiny house here in November when they were already hibernating. Yesterday was April 1st, right when black bears typically start waking up and foraging, and I am sure they are familiar with the human hiking path behind our home. They must have waken from their winter nap, walked down the path and been like “Where did this house come from?! This wasn’t here last year!”
The American Bear Association has has great tips for folks like me who live in black bear country. It was a beautiful, and humbling, experience to see them. The bears were so cute and were just playing/looking around, but even so we were hyper-aware that huge wild animals had surrounded our home! Black bears cover many, many miles of territory when they roam, so it’s more than likely that we will never see those bears again. Still, Chase and I will be taking further precautions. If a bear does wander nearby I don’t want them getting comfortable around the house. Black Goldilocks I am NOT! I will be picking up an air horn for a noise maker, a bell to put on my keychain for when I’m walking to my car, and some “bear spray”, just in case. And it just might be time to look into getting that dog we’ve been musing about …