Monday, July 16, 2012
I've Been Trying to Keep My Mouth Shut!
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.
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.