In mid-July Michele Kuck and her family had a party in their backyard in North Madison. It's a perfect backyard for a party; it's spacious, with a deck, and a pool. There's a hammock nearby. It's an oasis of civilized fun surrounded by a shady, forested area. At this party were the invited guests including about 20 people and two big dogs. Music was playing.
And then there was an univited guest. Bear B-1 came right up the fence. She checked it out, then slowly sauntered away.
After the other guests left, she came back. It appears as though she tried out the hammock. She chewed on a few swim floaties. She broke some toys. She trashed the umbrella (anti-shade?). And then she took a dip in the pool, trashing the pool liner in the process.
And then she came back, when the kids were in the yard
She liked it so much she's been back. Her latest visit to the Kuck household, on Suffolk Drive off of County Road, was Friday around 4 p.m. Check out the video of Bear B-1 in the pool. It's kind of cute. And a little bit funny. Until you watch the second part of the video, submitted by North Madison resident Darren Kramer earlier this month. Check out the size of the paws and how used to human voices this bear is getting. Then think about the fact that Michele has kids who want to swim in that pool, too.
On Friday Michele was in the yard. Bear B-1 was so quiet, Michele didn't even know the bear was there until her kids yelled at her that the bear was back.
"At the advice of [state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Wildlife Biologist] Paul Rego we bought an air horn and I had it with me so that scared [her] off" when she came back into the backyard, Michele said. "However, coming home to damage like this (15 gashes in pool liner) is unacceptable. I don't let my kids out now unless I'm out there with air horn and the music is on. I don't feel safe otherwise. They say these bears aren't aggressive but the way [s]he is tearing up our yard I'm not too convinced. ... B-1 is cub. What's the damage going to be to my fence when it's full grown?"
Worried about kids going to and from bus stop
Michele says she's so worried she won't let her kids out in the yard alone.
"I'm very concerned about my kids walking to/from bus stop; so much so that I am signing them up for [the town's] after school [program for school children]," she said. "And, by the way, our garbage is locked up in our shed and we have no bird feeders or anything else that would draw the attention of a bear."
So now what?
Have happily coexisted for eight years, but now don't feel safe
"We have lived here for 8 years and have seen lots of wildlife and have happily coexisted with them. However, the situation has been elevated since it is now destroying our property and we don't feel safe in our own yard!" Michele said.
Is Michele supposed to lock her pool in the shed? Is Bear B-1 getting so habituated to humans that she is potentially a threat to children or pets? Right now, state DEEP officials think she (they are pretty sure it's a girl bear) is a yearling, meaning she is not yet breeding. What about when she's older, and, having met the right guy bear, starts having babies?
We'll check back with Rego next week to see if he has anything to add to
Madison Animal Control Officer tells Kuck family she is tracking B-1
Michele also sent us a picture of Bear B-1 picking berries on Dorset Lane, from August 8 that she got from Madison Animal Control Officer Fran Fellows. Fellows told Michele that she is tracking B-1.
An air horn sounds like it might be a good thing to purchase.
They can be purchased from West Marine at 1667 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, CT, 860-395-5431 and WalMart at 900 Boston Post Road Guilford, CT, 203-458-1252. Call first to make sure they have them in stock.