Beware of Bears -- Two Sightings Reported!

Black bear walking near lake - Harlan Kredit - NPS

Black bear walking near lake - Harlan Kredit - NPS

During the past two weeks there have been two bear sightings in the Southwest Shore Colony. The first reported incident was on Memorial Day weekend on Spring Road, where a bear was discovered about 5:45 a.m. on the porch of Cabin 45. We are not sure whether the bear or the cabin owner was more shocked and frightened, but both parties took off quickly in opposite directions! The owner promptly ducked back inside the cabin, while the bear hastily retreated down the front stairs after leaving two large piles of scat and knocking a bird feeder to the ground.

The second bear sighting occurred this past weekend in front of Cabin 16 at the Keystone Road turn-around circle. One of our owners was out walking with a friend and her dog on Friday evening.  The bear apparently spotted them and scurried up a tree across from Cabin 16, out of harm's way. On Saturday the owners of nearby Cabin 17 reported that the bear had visited their deck, destroying their hummingbird feeder and other bird feeders.

Other incidents have been reported near Spring Road at Cabin 78 (bird feeder ripped down from a tree); Cabin 55 (a bear broke into the kitchen to eat fruit, leaving behind the telltale pile of scat as a "thank-you"); and Cabin 52 (bear prints in the snow on the front porch.)  The bear (or bears) must be getting desperate for food, and they are willing to venture into inhabited areas where food may be present.  We must be vigilant to avoid any unpleasant incidents.

Please do not leave food, garbage, bird seed, nuts, or other consumable items out where the bears will be attracted.  As long as the bears find food, they will keep coming back!  We are now on the bear's regular route, and are likely to remain so as long as the bear gets rewarded on each visit with something tasty:

  • Leave no accessible garbage, either indoors or out;
  • Keep all garbage indoors, sealed in sealable plastic bags so that odors do not waft outdoors to attract the bears;
  • Frequently (daily) dispose of trash, especially trash containing any food refuse, at the public trash drop-off across from the Performing Arts Center, which is just east of the old drive-in movie area above Metcalf Bay;
  • Do not feed pets outdoors;
  • Limit bird feed quantities, and take bird feeders indoors at night.

Be vigilant, especially from dusk to dawn hours. Fortunately, this bear is typical in that he or she is shy and tries to avoid human contact. The bear is not hunting humans and is not accompanied by cubs (the most dangerous situation for aggression.) Rather, the bear is opportunistic and dependent upon human-originated food or garbage, which the bear can smell from long distances.  Do not sleep outside after having handled food, garbage or dish washing, as black bears have mistaken a sleeping human carrying such odors as actual food, with very sad results.  If you plan on sleeping outside, shower first to remove the possibility that the bear might associate you with food or garbage.  If confronted by a bear, do not turn and run, but rather back away slowly so that you do not trigger a chase response.

The bear is simply following its instincts.  We do not want to facilitate successful ventures into our area. It would be tragic if the bear hurt someone, and would be a shame if the bear had to be euthanized should it become too comfortable with the area or started to become aggressive. Please take this warning seriously!

Several Southwest Shore owners contributed to this story.  If you have your own bear stories to share, or would otherwise like to comment, please submit your remarks in our "Leave a Reply" form at the bottom of the page.  Thanks.