Derry bear was ready for his close-up

By Cynthia Prairie
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

It’s not every day that a Vermonter gets to shoot a bear up-close without inflicting bodily harm on the bear, but that is exactly what Londonderry resident Julie Adams did on Sunday morning.

A bear visits a Londonderry home. The empty, untouched birdfeeder is to the right. All photos courtesy Julie Adams.

Adams was fast asleep when, around 12:15 a.m., she was awakened to the barks of her black Labrador retriever Duke. While she tried to hush Duke, she soon realized that the driveway motion sensor light had come on. It wouldn’t have surprised Adams to see deer or turkeys around her yard. Flocks of turkeys seem to be ubiquitous right now.

As Adams looked out the window, she saw her car, but no tracks in the dusting of snow, she told The Telegraph on Sunday afternoon. So, she did what most would do. She laid back down to return to dreamland. That’s when she saw a second motion sensor light come on.

“I got a bit scared,” she recalled. She then peered out her sewing room window and spotted the bear.  “I could see him on the front steps. So I got out my cellphone. And he was right at the kitchen window.” She moved into the adjacent mud room and, by that time, he had moved there too, to peer into the window.

That’s when she shot him – from a foot away – with her cellphone camera. The flash, Adams says, “did not faze him a bit.”  In the photo, he actually looks a bit like he’s posing. So Adams tapped on the window hoping to scare him away. If he was scared, he didn’t act like it. In fact, he just turned and walked away.

The bear moves along the side of the Adams home.

Adams decided the best course of action would be to stay up until all the sensor lights went out, which they finally did closer to 1 a.m.

She doesn’t know what attracted the bear.  In the top photo, an untouched bird feeder can be seen just to the right of the bear. Adams said the feeder is empty and “has been empty for more than a year. And I have no compost.”

“As exciting as it was, it was also scary,” she says.  “I’m 5 foot 7,” she says. “And he’s pretty close to my height.” Over the summer, Adams’ cousin also spotted a huge bear in her driveway,  one that she described as even bigger than Mr. Sunday Morning.  She speculated that the bear could be a young male who was new to being on his own.

Whatever it was that attracted him, she hopes he doesn’t return anytime soon for another photo session.

Asked about the bear’s behavior, Forrest Hammond, Black Bear Project leader for Vermont Fish & Wildlife, said, “Young bears are most easily attracted to back yards. And (this one) has probably gone to other’s people’s back yards and gotten a food reward.”

But, Hammond said,  “Since it didn’t get a food reward, it probably won’t return.”  He added that it was also a good thing that the visit happened at night and not during the day, which would indicate he had gotten less shy and more brazen. Even though the bear didn’t run away quickly, the good news is that it left, Hammond said. “You want to make it as uncomfortable for him as possible,” he suggested.

At this point in the season, bear visits could decline. Hammond said that this year wasn’t a good one for nuts and berries, which means “a lot of bears have already denned up to preserve their fat reserves for the winter.”

He added that his agency has received quite a number of reports  from Chester, Londonderry, Springfield and Brattleboro about bear activity, and by the end of 2018, he expects the complaints to hit 1,000.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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