Wildlife, it seems, is getting a little wilder.
A black bear broke through the locked French doors of an Aspen home recently and attacked a woman within. With only one Department of Wildlife officer in the town, residents are being told to be more careful if and when they encounter a bear. Since July 1, reports The Wall Street Journal, 460 people have placed calls reporting bears wandering through that town.
On my walk today I saw a woman staring in wonder — at 5:00 on a sunny suburban afternoon — as a fat, furry raccoon crossed the path in front of her and waddled into the woods. A couple who had passed her saw me walking in that direction and wondered, as I did, why she didn’t avoid the animal
“Raccoons aren’t supposed to be out in daylight. You’d better warn her,” they said. I walked fast and caught up to her, but, carrying a book in Japanese, she was quite likely one of the many foreign students at our local residential language school. I wasn’t sure that saying “That animal might be rabid. Best to move along quickly” would be clearly understood. A neighbor across the street recently told me she had to stand between her dog and a coyote to protect her pet. This, on a New York road only 25 miles north of Manhattan.
As I began my walk, a deer stood in the middle of the concrete path, unconcerned that two women were walking towards it from opposite directions. It very slowly meandered about six feet away up a hill and stared at us calmly. It’s lovely to be so close to nature, really, but between Lyme disease-carrying ticks, food-seeking bears, curious coyotes and insomniac racooons, something’s gotta give.
I overheard a confident young woman in a trendy cafe in Toronto recently, explaining calmly and reasonably — which seemed somehow a very Canadian conversation — how she would react if she ever ran into a bear. “A bear wouldn’t attack me,” she said, “because I wouldn’t do anything to annoy it.” I hope she’s right.