Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 24 : Spring 2015 - Page 21

although peanut butter seems to be a favorite. Once mama bear smelled our trash, she and her cubs dined al fresco in our yard. Hunger and crankiness gave mama bear the extra adrenaline boost she needed to detach the recently reinforced doors from the shed. After two more visits, we finally admitted defeat. We purchased the leak proof, dent and weather resistant Rubbermaid © 3747 storage shed. Add a padlock and even a bear will not harm it. Right. Late one night a couple of weeks later we heard a commotion outside. My husband, suspecting it was the bear went to the window to gloat as he watched her fruitlessly attempt to break into the new shed. Instead he saw a dilapidated shed and a huge bear with her nose in a peanut butter jar. After finishing her peanut butter appetizer she returned to the shed, grabbed a bag of trash and carried it off into the woods. Well, I guess she showed us. Bear five, Bowkers, zero. Finally, we learned our lesson; when the bears are awake keep the trash in the garage. But, our troubles with the bear were not quite finished. The next dirty deed occurred when we were out of town. Our welcome home consisted of empty, demolished birdfeeders. Even the thick metal pole had been ripped out of the ground. Either we had a huge bird or, more likely, the bear had made one more visit. So, why are we irresponsible? Why shouldn’t we put our trash outside? Why can’t we feed the birds in the spring? Our experiences with trash and birdfeeders should be obvious reasons for not placing your trash outside and leaving your birdfeeders up when bears are active. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recommends keeping trash in a secure area, taking birdfeeders down and keeping grills cleaned and free of grease from April to October, the time period when bears are most active. If you haven’t learned from our mistakes and insist on fighting nature the department recommends placing electric fences or mats around trash cans and birdfeeders. Seems a bit extreme, and mean, to me. As the department points out, most of the encounters with black bears are caused by the bears taking advantage of human irresponsibility. There’s that word again, irresponsibility. It cannot be any clearer. Bears are opportunists and if you make it easy for them, they are going to take advantage of the situation. As Jellystone Park’s Ranger Smith said, Don’t feed the bears, because like Yogi and Boo Boo, they will steal your picnic basket. SPRING 2015 19