First, I told you it would darken fabulously. It's still got a way to go, but here's the current pastel version:
Two days ago the mailman knocked on our door to deliver a couple of packages. He likes to do this rather than just leave them in the door, mostly because 3/4 of the time they are legos for Little Man who gets all excited about the mail, so the mailman likes to give him a little fun. Anyway, he handed the packages to Little Man and said "Guess what I just saw? A black bear." No surprise there.
What was a surprise was that the mailman was filling the mailboxes one row of townhouses away (for those who don't know, there's a big box at the start of every other row of townhouses that has all the boxes for the houses in both those rows. We all have to walk down a row to the box to get our mail. Kinda like the lobby of an apartment building, but with more weather.) and he said the bear came out of the woods, walked RIGHT BEHIND HIM DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET and went into the small wooded area in front of the houses WHERE OUR PLAYGROUND IS. The bear was completely unconcerned that the mailman was standing there watching him as he waddled down the road, in broad daylight, right in the middle of a townhouse development.
This concerned me. Most wildlife doesn't bother me in the slightest; in fact, that's part of the appeal of living here. We've had bear sightings before in the almost 20 years that this neighborhood has existed, but they were just that - sightings. One shot, and the bear was gone. Never have we had one this bold, one who keeps coming back and who obviously isn't perturbed by people. He's obviously well fed, too.
So I decided to call the Department of Natural Resources, who usually handles these things. I told the woman about all the bear encounters I know about and asked what they do. Well, in a word, nothing. She told me to lock up the trash, put all birdfeeders away, do whatever we have to do to eliminate the food source. I was silent for a second, then I attempted to explain that this is a townhouse neighborhood. It has 150 houses, lots of kids, lots of pets. The likelihood of getting all those houses to lock up their trash when only maybe 20% have sheds in which to lock them is pretty slim, not to mention that our trash has to be out to the curb by 7am on Mondays and Thursdays and what are we supposed to do then? Not put our trash out until the garbage truck comes? Take every Monday and Thursday off so we can wait for them? Obviously this bear isn't confining his food searches to nighttime. She said he's an adolescent looking for girl bears, and when he figures out there are no girl bears here and the food source is gone, he'll move on. I reminded her that I just explained that the food source is going to be there and it really isn't feasible to remove it. She didn't say anything. I said "You really don't do ANYTHING? We don't want the bear hurt, we want it to have a happy life, but we really don't want a kid or pet to be hurt." She told me again the whole shpiel about locking up the trash and putting away birdfeeders. I angrily thanked her and hung up.
Today I had planned to try the county animal control office, but I talked to my neighbor, also a mother with small kids, and she called them when she first saw the bear months ago. They told her to call the Department of Natural Resources. And we know how that went. So I didn't call, and instead posted to our neighborhood playgroup about the bear and the natural resources call, and asked for input about any other bear sightings in the neighborhood. Only my neighbor called me, and I already knew about her sighting. So far I haven't heard from anyone else. I'll wait until Monday, and then try calling the county again.
I am really concerned about the fact that this bear doesn't appear to be fearful of humans. I am worried it is going to take a kid or animal getting hurt before anyone will do anything about it. It's ridiculous that we need to be worried about letting our kids go play in the front yard or ride their bikes up and down the street because of a bear that is somewhere he doesn't belong. It's not like this is a rural, mountainous area that's his natural habitat; this is the DC metro suburbs. Sexual predators? Sad, but sure. Traffic going too fast? You betcha. Carjackers? Yep. Bears? Not so much.
Anyone got any ideas? I'm all ears.
I also worry about how much I yell. Check it out at DC Metro Moms Blog.
Believe it or not, I also sometimes find time to scrapbook. Find out how here.