Monday, July 16, 2012

I've Been Trying to Keep My Mouth Shut!

Remember last week when I posted this picture? 

This is the little hole that the bear made when he decided to snack on my layer hens and turkeys.  Jolene and I spent the day after, mending the hole and securing other areas of the coop.  This particular hole is about 18 inches above an 8 foot fence.  The next evening all as quiet, or seemingly so.  Those oso aren't stoopid!  Shelly, Bean and Friend Gretchen sat down by the coops armed to the teeth in an attempt to thwart any other plans the bear had for an easy meal.  No sight of the bear. 

And here's the coop a couple of days later.  In the end I lost about 35 birds, including my favorite roo, Russel Crow.  After another call to the Department of Wildlife, a nice young man brought out a trap and some paperwork. 
The remaining  fowl, checked out the trap for a few minutes and then went about their usual pecking and dusting.  We baited the trap with some bacon, cream cheese frosting, cantaloupe and the body of the red rooster.  The red rooster, who never made friends with the humans around here, had been bitten and had to be put down. 
After a few days of early morning checks, we turned the corner to find the door to the trap shut.  Shelly opened up one of the vent doors and quickly shut it.  I made her open up the vent doors and allow me a peek in. 
Inside was this critter.  My first impression was that we had gotten the wrong bear, this one is too small.  Turns out it was the right bear.  The DOW officer called later and told us the bear's history.  He was trapped and tagged in the Westcliffe area last year for killing chickens.  He was then relocated to Huerfano County approximately 80-90 miles from our ranch. 
Although I don't know for sure, this bear was probably humanely put down.  I did fill out the paperwork asking for monetary reimbursement for my chicken losses. 

So here comes the "not keeping my mouth shut" part.  My little blog has 13 public followers.  I know more people read it as I generally send an email announcing my updates as well as posting a link on Facebook.  I also have others frequently comment about not keeping up on posts or the cute pictures of my critters, or of course my exaggeration of Shelly's abilities.  Point being, I don't know who reads it and who doesn't.  In general I try not to make waves.  Life is a whole lot easier if I take a minute and think about what kind of an impact my words may have on others.  I'm going to blow that right out of the water here.  I'm also going to post a picture that some of you may not find pleasing.  Just a warning. 

I live on a mountain, with a lot of wildlife.  I've seen deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, skunks, foxes,coyotes,  picket pens, hawks, and the occasional bald eagle.  We've had the displeasure of watching a mountain lion chew on our ducks from a distance of 6 feet.  I've lost lambs and hogs to bears.  I've had coyotes chase my goats into fences and skunks steal eggs as well as rip the heads off 100 cockerels.  We've trapped at least 6 bears on our ranch in the last 7 years, shot 2 and jumped one with dogs.  For the most part I accept all the wildlife in our area.  They lived here first.  With the exception of this most recent incident, I have never asked for monetary reimbursement for my losses.  I have always accepted it as part of living with such beauty.  The problem here is a neighbor.  We have a couple that lives about a mile up the mountain.  They love animals to the point of harming them.  It's the Lenny Syndrome.   Well maybe not exactly, they don't hug them and squeeze them, and kiss them and call them George.  They do however place feed out for the wildlife.  A large amount of feed.  They have said that they only put out food for the deer but I'm pretty sure a bear isn't going to pass up a free meal if it is offered.  The neighbors have had a bear break into their vehicle after food.  A bear breaking into a vehicle is not a cute thing, damage was done.  In fact I haven't seen that specific auto rumble down the hill since it happened.  The problems with feeding wildlife are numerous.  If I were on a specific diet of raw food consisting of native plants and I suddenly switched it McDonald's burgers I'd probably have a few digestive problems.  In addition to the disruption of their digestion, many animals become dependent upon feed left by humans and will become unpredictable when that food source is taken away.  Large animals like bears will continue to come back to the same food source if food is there on a consistent basis.  Our bear roamed at least 80 miles to our ranch.  He should have been here briefly and then continued his wandering ways. Even though the neighbors feel and truly believe that they are doing a good thing, they are not.  They have been repeatedly told that they are not doing a good thing. They have been told by DOW officers, and other neighbors, not just us.  These same neighbors threatened to kill an officer's dogs if he continued to allow them to chase a bear.  Shelly and I have been scolded by the neighbors for trapping or shooting wildlife that wanders onto our ranch.  I want to be clear, I have never shot or had someone shoot an animal just because I saw it on our property.  I don't hunt.  Not because I'm against hunting, but for several reasons.  I don't have time, and I really don't look good in day-glow orange. I have invited others to hunt on our property.  I only invite those that I feel respect not only my ranch but the animals that they hunt as well.  I have only shot or trapped animals that have become a problem, more than once.  I do harvest turkeys and chickens here and allow others to harvest lambs and goats here as well.  I try to do most things in life with respect and dignity and the raising, harvesting and consumption of the animals we eat are no exception.  Although I have politely told the neighbors that feeding everything is harmful, it has apparently fallen of deaf ears.  I have been waved aside when the neighbors hear about our trials with wildlife, I've been told that we live in a bad area and that I shouldn't blame them for having bad luck.  First, I don't have bad luck and secondly I will continue to blame my neighbors.  I will tell everyone I know what happens on our mountain.  If our neighbors ever put their property up for sale I will make it a point to inform anyone looking at it that wildlife, the big dangerous kind frequents their driveway.  Maybe the death and destruction of my layer chickens would have still occurred if the neighbors didn't feed everything, maybe this once.  However, the fact that I have the DOW on speed dial because we have these problems frequently, is absolutely because the neighbors feed the wildlife.  If this particular bear was put down, it is ABSOLUTELY the neighbors' fault.  It is not my fault for trapping the bear.  I do my best to  provide a safe shelter for my chickens.  I have built and rebuilt coops, placed electric fencing around the perimeter, placed smelly stuff around, made repeated phone calls to our trash removal service for metal lids on our dumpster.  I have done my best to discourage wildlife from checking out my livestock.  It is the neighbors' fault that I have lost livestock which means I have lost money.  Because of the neighbors actions, my ability to put food in front of my family has been handicapped. 

The fact that I had to take the following photo for evidence is horrible.  It is because of my neighbors that you, my readers are being subjected to such a thing. 
The purpose of this blog was not to capture your attention with pictures of a captured bear and then rant about those that live near me.  I'm hoping that anyone that loves animals from hamsters to bears will also respect animals.  If putting out grain for deer were a good thing, then I'm wagering the DOW would have a program encouraging people to do so.  I'm not sure about other states but I know without a shadow of a doubt that Colorado does not have any such program.  In fact I believe we have the opposite here. 


  1. Dawn,

    Feeding the deer is absolutely illegal in Colorado and for a good reason. I spoke in depth with the DOW out there and they made it clear that by attracting the deer, you also attract the lions and that is the #1 reason for it being illegal.

    I would have no problem with reporting the neighbor for doing this. I think a quick call to DOW will get the neighbor cited. We had people down from us in High Chateau who thought it was cute to always put their trashcans out a day in advance and not even secure them. Almost every morning the trashcans were destroyed and trash everywhere from the bears. This means we had bears roaming around our house because of these neighbors and with 2 little girls and 2 dogs.... blah... you get the idea. I ended up setting camera traps and caught several on film. Some even walking right up to my back door at night.

    One afternoon I stepped outside with the dogs and locked eyes with a bear about 100 yards away. Luckily I was able to get the dogs in before they saw him.

    Anyway... I am sorry for your loss and I hope you can work things out with the neighbor. They are doing more harm than good but of course we know these people don't often understand that.

    Chris Miller - One Family's Journey To Finding True Happiness

  2. Stories and pictures like these need to be seen. We have been lucky that the bear, coyotes, fox and other range of predators have so far, left our goats and hens alone. We bring our animals in every night, rain or shine; freezing or cold.

    Often we wonder if our lives and the goats lives would be simpler if we let them stay out in the fields at night,especially on these awfully hot days. We do not have a guardian animal though, and sure enough, and soon enough, something would come along and test the fences. We have actually had the most problem with domestic dogs. They look for garbage too. And they like to chase.

    I often tell people that the fences are not to keep the goats in, but to keep everything else out. Now if my neighbor started calling the deer (and the bears) in with sacks of food, I'd definitely have a problem.

    You see, here, the deer are a problem too. Menigeal worm. Brain worm.

    It spreads from deer to goats. I lost two strong and handsome males to this disease. It didn't take them quickly either. It handicapped them to the point they had to be put down or died from being unable to get up from a fallen position and suffered a slow death. They staggered like drunks and couldn't handle icy or muddy terrain. We're talking about GOATS.

    I discussed having more passes for my hunters to take more deer off my property with my Game Warden. In my instance, if the deer are hopping the fence to eat in my paddocks and leave behind their disease, they are ruining my crops. My clean pastures and my harvestable meat. I finally got the Warden to understand.

    So don't feed the cute, damned deer either. They kill livestock and they kill people too. Around here, and maybe where you are, there's enough of them damaging cars and killing people on the roads too, because of over population.

    Get your neighbors cited fast.

  3. Rant away, Dawn. You need to. I agree with the other two comments. If neighbors are doing something illegal...and they are by feeding wildlife...then they need to be cited. Then, they need to stop the feeding!

  4. Need to fix my spelling on Meningeal worm in case someone actually cares to look it up.
    Here's another link while I'm at it.

    Lets here some follow up on this. Ya got me mad!!

  5. I'm sitting around the same fire as everyone that has commented, both here and on Facebook. We've told DOW, complained loudly really. One officer did have some terse words for the neighbors but said without proof, she couldn't write them tickets. The neighbors aren't STOOPID either, they have been very good at flying under the radar and saying the right things to the right people. I have faith though, it will all work out one of these days. There are plans in the works. I thank you all for your thoughts and comments.

  6. If they put down the bear did they check stomach contents? They should if its a troublesome animal.