This late summer has been eventful, if anything. We’ve been visited nightly by a bear–a BIG bear. This bear is about 6 to 7 feet long from rump to shoulders, which might make it a grizzly. My spouse only saw him once from above and at 3 am, which made it difficult to determine the actual species beyond “big fucking bear.” Could be a black bear or a grizzly. Either way, he was BIG. He was on my front porch, if you want to know how up close and personal it was.
Alarm Llamas and Electric Fences
The reason why we know he’s been around is that Llorelei the llama has been alerting Hel herself that the bear has come around. Llamas have this alarm call that is unmistakable. Sounds like a cross between a neigh and someone yodeling. And loud!
She lets us know he’s around, which is usually around 3 am, although he’s shown up at 9 pm and 5 am. Llorelei does her job well and herds the goats behind her into the barn. We have an electric fence that serves as a deterrent, but I suppose a bear could get into the goat pen. The amperage is pretty strong on the fence, so if a bear were to touch it, it would be pretty unpleasant.
The Beary Lowdown
The bear appears to be habituated, making him dangerous to humans. He’s definitely a “trash bear,” which puts him looking towards humans for food. Not good. Some people don’t secure their trash around here, thus aggravating the problem. And according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, there’s been four known grizzlies in the area.
Grizzlies are protected in Montana, so unless one attacks you, you can’t shoot them. You can hunt black bears, but since the bear comes around at night, shooting isn’t an option anyway. Self defense and attacking livestock, yeah. Just being a nuisance? No.
But this is why we carry bear spray when outside, except during the coldest times when it would just freeze. Bears hibernate, but have been known to take a walk around on warmer winter days. So, we’re always prepared.
I read on a local news site that our county is going to require bear-proof trash cans and dumpsters for all residents. We already have a bear-proof dumpster. We switched over after years of deterring bears with bungee cords on the lids. It took just one time when a bear decided it should get in our trash for us to make the switch. If this ordinance becomes law, they give everyone three years to comply. Sigh. Three years of trash bears is so not worth it.
Getting people to comply is going to be difficult. Sure, those with dumpsters will get changed over by their trash company, but those who want to just leave their stuff on the side of the road will do so. Still, stopping bears from eating trash and associating humans with food is the best way to reduce conflicts. And maybe, maybe the bear who is visiting us will figure out somewhere else to go.