|New to the Cariboo|
By Sherry Day Foster
(Photo: Thar's bears out thar and I'm ready for bear!)
Oh, yes, bears out there. Out there in the bush, in the city park, in trees, alongside the road and who knows where else?
Until now, the only bears I've had any up-close and personal experience with were stuffed. Stuffed, cute, cuddly and not at all scary.
The two bears I have seen since I've been in the Cariboo were pretty far down the road from where I live, have not tried anything with me. One was on the right side of the road as I was driving home and the other one was on the right side of the road as I was driving to town. Was it the same one? Who knows? I wasn't going to check it out that closely.
I'm scared of bears. I think they are very close to me --a lot closer than they were when I lived in Texas. (The only bears I really heard about were The Baylor Bears and that was a college team out of Waco, Texas.)
I know they are in my neighborhood because some of the neighbors have seen them. One neighbor told me he saw a bear walking out of our driveway. Another told me he sat on his back porch and watched a mom and her cubs playing. They are old timers to these parts, not a newcomer like me.
My husband tells me he's not seen one here for a long time; however, he has a photo of that particular bear happily eating berries not far from where I sit as I write this column.
The fact that bears roam this area never crossed my mind until last summer when my then husband-to-be and I were tromping around the estate locating wild flowers that I wanted to use for our wedding ceremony. We were walking single-file in the bush and all of a sudden I noticed a clump of --well, you know … manure is what we'd call it in Texas.
I asked my husband-to-be if there were any cows around. “No”, he said. Horses? Sheep? In an off-handed manner he replied, “No”. Foxes? He turned around and inspected the pile in question. “No”, was his answer again. BEARS? He casually turned around and began walking again and quietly responded, "Maybe."
The pile under investigation was still steaming and as I stood there, frozen in my tracks, staring at it my eyes darted to and fro looking for the guilty party and then I very quietly whispered, "I'm going back to the house." And that's the last time I was in the bush.
I sent relatives out to gather the flowers for our wedding and then there was so much going on with my relocation, immigration, travel, etc. that the bear scare sort of floated to the back of my consciousness.
However, we did buy some bear spray--just in case. Then I read the directions -- wait until the bear is very close to you then spray it in its face. Ha ha ... not me, I thought as I put the spray on the shelf and forgot about bears for the time being.
This summer the weather was gorgeous, the temperature was perfect ( a favorite and over-used word in my opinion here in the Cariboo and all of BC). So, on this ‘perfect’ day, I wanted to talk a walk on the road that leads to our house. Less than 1,000 feet (sorry, I don't know the metric system yet) from the house I saw a familiar sight on the roadside again.
I did an about face and high-tailed it back home. Then the next day I found out about bear blasters and bear bells from a couple we were visiting, so I went to the store and invested.
A couple of days later, I put on ear protection, very carefully loaded the bear-blaster and shot it into the bush. Those who witnessed the demonstration said the blaster made a very loud noise, but it didn't bother me since I had protection.
So, now I have a bear bag and that's where all the gear is stashed. (All but the blaster.) It is in my purse right next to my gel pen and I say this as a warning to any bears who might read this or get word any other way.
They say it only scares the bear and does it no harm and I'm quite sure when/if I ever use it, I'll be just as scared as the bear.
Since I'm 'new to the Cariboo', I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has used this device. What happened? I can barely wait to hear.
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