Bear on the run

Photo by Norm Sutton
I was in Edmonton on the one Sunday when a bear wandered into our neighborhood.  The only time, in my 14 years of living downtown, that a bear shows up and I'm five hours down the road.  I had to watch the action on Facebook.

Photo by Norm Sutton
I haven't spoken to my neighbors Norm and Sheila about the particulars, but from what I could glean, Mr. Black Bear came pawing around in the morning, attracted by something or other on their deck.  Wildlife officers were called and the next thing you know I'm watching a video of it crawling up a tree in the other neighbor's yard, across the right-of-way at the back.



As I was watching all of this from my hotel room on Gateway Boulevard, I texted my wife to see if she was getting in on the animal action.  She wasn't, or hadn't been to that point, nor had Ben, who was playing around with Minecraft on the computer.

Flash forward about 30 hours to the evening of the following day and our furry friend had returned.  This time, I was home to get the phone call from Sheila in a panic telling me to keep the kids inside.  As my brain tried to wrap itself around what she had just said, I saw a black mass run across the street, heading toward Armit Crescent.

Within the seconds, there were more people outside talking to each other than we had seen all winter long.  Several of us called the authorities and very quickly we had two or three RCMP vehicles patrolling the neighborhood.

I found it quite amusing, long after the excitement had died down and I had sent the boys to bed - this had all started after 9 pm - when the black fur ball reappeared, took off around the corner on Armit, with the police in hot pursuit.  Had someone snapped a picture, the headline in the papers the next morning would have been BEAR ON THE RUN.

I'm wondering what that bear was going through to meander into the urban centre.  Getting up from a long winter's sleep only to discover that spring hadn't shown up and that the normally abundant food supply was nowhere to be found probably felt rather sucky.  Of course, I'm completely guessing that's what brought Mr. Black Bear to our neighbor's backyard.

I think what would further suck is the realization by our furry friend that coming back to the scene of the crime was a royally dumb idea.  I'm not sure exactly what our wildlife control officers have in their playbook, but I suspect that a bear that comes back to the same spot in the same city two days running, has just significantly shortened his lifespan.

As a child, this incident would have inspired fears and nightmares the likes of which would have left me sleepless for days.  I had multiple phobias and fear of bears was near the top of the list, right up their with the Sasquatch and spiders.

As an adult, I'm less scared and more intrigued.  I'm glad I was home to see the second coming of this beautiful animal.  I just hope he managed to find his way back into the forest and has the wisdom to stay there, though that fallacious outcome is unlikely.

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