Friday, June 22, 2012

Bear Bust

When the Game and Fish truck rolled up on our house, the neighbors wanted to know who dropped the dime on the bear.

Well, it was me, I admit it.

The day after he ran Elizabeth and me off our deck, he came back to see us again. It was about lunchtime, and I was away picking E up from her part time playschool. Pam was home alone and heard scrabbling at the kitchen window.

She got up from the table where she was doing some Home Depot research and there he was, knocking the screen from the open window and getting ready to do whatever it took to lever himself up and inside.

Pam slammed the window shut, then flashed me a text. "The Bear is Back!" I never saw it, since I don't text and drive . . . at least not when I'm trying to organize the presets on my new car radio. But when I got back to the house, Pam was waiting at the door to warn us we needed to get inside pronto.

The conventional local wisdom about bears is that if you feed them, you turn them into potentially dangerous nuisances. They may hurt somebody, on the way to getting themselves killed.

So I called Game and Fish and told them we apparently were dealing with exactly that kind of bear. The officer was at our door a few hours later, and less than an hour after that he hauled the trailer above to our little street. It's a bear trap, baited with day-old pie and some fruit. Pam added a cup of sugar water from our hummingbird feeder.

We left town for New York the next day, so we don't know yet if they've caught him. We've got mixed feelings about it too. On the one hand, we'd like to use our deck without feeling like prey. On the other, the officer told us bears often don't adjust well when they're moved, and in some cases the department decides instead to put them down.

If I'd known all that, I might have kept my dime and looked for a better way to secure the deck. Would that have been smarter or fairer? I don't know.

We drove away from Ruidoso on roads that had been closed for days while the Little Bear fire raged last week. It was easy to see why. Vast stretches of blackened forest still smoldered on both sides of the highway, and we passed many of the more than 200 houses that were destroyed, reduced to circles of ashy debris with here and there a stone fireplace and chimney for a monument.

In a few cases, a morose cluster of former homeowners and what looked like insurance claims adjusters surveyed one of the devastated sites. Overhead, a vast towering column of smoke still rose thousands of feet into the air as firefighters continued to back burn dead trees, brush and other dry fuel inside the containment boundaries.

We're in New York until next week, when we attend a court proceeding connected with finalizing our adoption of Elizabeth. We hope it will be the last one. Our lawyers say it might be. Keep your fingers crossed.


  1. Tough call re: the bear. Methinks you made the right choice. Good luck in NYC. Safe travels!