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One Hungry Bear!!
By Michael A. Guy   


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Check out the photo of what the local bear did to my screen porch door a while back on one very cold Friday night.

Well I've seen the local bear(s) and they are all pretty large, Florida Black Bears. They cut through my woody neighborhood quite frequently as I live on the edge of the Ocala National Forest and quite in the middle of it on Lake Kerr. Though they are large, they are often quite lean and they have not done well in the last few winters what with recording breaking quantities of freezes due to the Negative North Atlantic Oscillation sending early punishing hard freezes deep into the Ocala Forest area.

A good example of how little is to eat around here is the brushy lot behind my house which has even the hardiest vegetation in a black state of ruin and I am not sure the tropical plants will survive another year of this (that concerns the bees more than the bears)... But last year, we had a big fall acorn crop and I know the bear was eating a lot of them for what good it did him. I constantly saw his "squat" on my driveway and dirt road full of acorns, yet most go through his system un-digested. Not much nutrition for a big body like a bear's. This year no acorns, as they seem to cycle. Well this one bear must be very desperate. I see few droppings around.

One freezing Friday night a week or so ago, he came by and as I often feed the neighborhood stray cats that come by I left a dish of dry cat food out on my screen enclosed porch. It is an old-fashioned porch as my house is 45 years old with a wooden, swinging porch door but the door swings out not in. Of course the cats get in because the bottom of the screening is pushed out, and they push on through. I purposely left it unfixed so my friend, "Mr. Bighead" whom I am sure is an abandoned large male cat can get inside to nourish himself, I really only feed him in the cold weather, and I usually bring in the dish at night due to bears.

It is a good thing I am almost deaf, I didn't hear a thing that night, but in the morning I was astounded by the absolute destruction of the screen door. It was splintered beyond repair and laying inside the porch as you can see in the picture. At first I thought maybe we had a storm, but I knew it was cold, freezing weather. I immediately realized it was "my bear" or one of a few around here. On his usual rounds which almost never include my property in particular as I do not leave garbage outside (I have a garage, a feature many houses here do not, as my house is concrete block)

Anyway, I feel sort of sorry for Mr. Black Bear, as he could not have gotten much more than a lick out of that cat dish--the cat, "Bighead" defintely had been around that evening, as I could smell. I started feeding "Bighead" with the express understanding between us, that IF I would feed him regularly in winter, he would not "piss on my door" -- well he's really taken a shine to me and considers me his friend, as he's gettting lots of extra food. And yes, he still pisses on my house and door anyway!

So I hope the bear got something but I doubt it... And I can't blame him for not knocking! Even with him breaking the door down, I didn't hear a thing in my bedroom on the other side of the house, which being a tiny house is only a 100 feet or so to the SW of the porch.  It's a good thing I didn't, I may  have gone out to investigate and that could of become critical!

The bear hasn't been back on the porch since I think, but yet I did forget the dish a few other times, and now that the door is down, I have no money or intention of replacing it. So he has free access... umm, maybe that's what he wanted, but I am not feeding him, as that is against the law around here.

And against common sense. It is a tough winter for all concerned here out in the frozen swamps of middle Florida.... I wish the bear success in getting some garbage at all the too many "white trash" dwellings around here.

From the Florida woods, thanks for reading.



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