The Bear We Are Eating Now

While the kids and I were in Portland, they killed a bear up here. I mean, we came home to an enormous bear hide covered in salt, drying, bear meat in the fridge and some 300 lbs more of it headed our way.

That’s the short story.

The long story is this:

A neighbor stopped me on the road a while ago to warn me about a big bear that was wrecking orchards nearby. I’d already been warned by others about all the bears that live around our yurt – mountain lions too – but this was the first time that someone actually told me about a specific bear that was specifically known to be aggressive.

My neighbor was late with the warning, as the bear – assuming it was the same one – had already destroyed quite a few trees in our orchard.

That’s what I didn’t understand before I saw it, just how badly a bear can wreck an orchard. If a large bear wants some of the fruit of a tree, it can (and will) just smash the entire tree down for the few apples. Or prunes. Or whatever it is after.

Anyway, before we left for Portland, we knew the bear was hanging out under our fig tree. The fig tree is enormous, easily over a hundred years old, and produces two massive crops a year. It’s also where the kids play. It’s their favorite natural play structure. They climb on it, pretend it’s a star ship, jump around on it. They play there a lot and they will also slip out of the house and walk the 100 feet or so to go there to play alone.

So I was concerned about the bear choosing to hang out there. It’s really, really close.

the fig tree (on the right)
the fig tree (on the right)
the fig tree - where the kids go to play and where the bear was living
the fig tree – where the kids go to play and where the bear was living

But I wasn’t going to do anything about it. I mean, we are leaving soon, the bear will go into hibernation, right? I figured we could just stay out of its way, we’ll all mind our own business and that will be that.

…. but I was wrong.

A farm hand who is also a hunter bought a license to kill the bear after the destruction of the apple trees, and in concern over the proximity of the fig tree and our home.

After he heard the bear growling at Mikey when Mikey walked passed the fig tree, he shot it.

But he didn’t kill it.

The wounded bear ran and they didn’t know where she was.

Enter Kianna – yes, my hearing service dog, KIANNA.

Mikey had her on leash, she smelled the bear blood and led them to where the bear was, up the mountain and in very bad shape. At that point, killing her was probably the kindest thing they could have done for her. I guess. I don’t know. I don’t like to think about it, it just makes me sad.

****

Everything was done legally – the license purchased, the right authorities contacted both before and after the bear was killed. They brought the bear in – it was a 12 or 13 year old female and she weighed over 300 lbs.

We are all left feeling very sad.

We’re sad that the bear is dead, sad that our farm hand felt the need to shoot her, sad that it may very well have been a wise call on his part. The authorities said that bears of that size and age can be very aggressive. And we do have 3 little kids that play right there.

But regardless of what they said or how “right” that decision might have been, it’s just sad.

We don’t want her death to be for nothing and her flesh to just rot, so she’s been butchered and there’s a lot of bear meat in our future.

bear meat bear meat

 

Meriah

is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).

She likes her coffee black and hot.


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6 Comments

  • I’m glad you wrote this story. Sounds like what happened needed to happen, and you are absolutely doing the best possible thing you could do by using the meat. But I understand why you are sad.

  • I love that you shared your story and expressed the sadness at the loss of the bear’s life, but you explained why it had to be killed & then how the bear’s life won’t be wasted (you’ll eat the meat). Sustainable hunting is the way we manage wildlife and humans living together. My husband is a hunter, it’s not my thing, but we had a black bear on our ranch in MT that would NOT go away, even after having “warning” shots fired at it several times. It became agressive and bold too – but berries behind our cabin were plentiful and we had a strawberry patch. I was genuinely scared because I’m not that great of a shot and I had a baby with me at all times. One of our guys told me “when they get that comfortable they have to be killed” and I was very sad, but I knew it was going to happen whether I liked it or not. Your ranch hand probably knew how it needed to end before there was a real tragedy. A bear like the one you had probably had very few teeth at that age prohibiting eating anything but soft fruit – hence camping at the fig tree – and the ones she still had could have been infected (that makes them aggressive…but a sore tooth or hunger makes me aggressive too). Getting the license and doing things the right way doesn’t take away the sadness, but it’s better than a hurt child or adult. Thank you for sharing your journey!

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