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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
An ursine wake up call and a rather unhappy llama 
3rd-May-2016 08:43 am
This morning brought with it another bear visit. The front trash was strewn across the walkway and some of it was missing. The pole for the bird feeder was down and the feeder was missing. (I found it while on my way to my car, smashed to pieces behind the truck.) The dog was fascinated by the front yard and a little disappointed when I picked up all of the trash and uprighted the can. As is my practice, I dumped cat litter all over the trash so that it won't be attractive tonight when the bear comes back.

The bear also took a walk through Jessie's pasture. The goats apparently retreated into the barn to stand their ground, and the bear was not hungry enough to try them. The chicken coop-and-run, which was about 30 feet away from the barn, was flipped completely upside down. The chickens were still in the fenced portion, running back and forth in the canoe curve of the fence-lid. They could have flown out, but apparently didn't see any reason to bother. Or they had already come back after being startled into leaving. And speaking of bother, the chicken feeder - also lying in the fence-lid - still had chicken chow in it. Apparently the bear wanted eggs for breakfast, not cereal. However, it's likely that there were no eggs, since I collected a pair of them last night after playing in the potatoes.

The biggest loser in this encounter was Hercules. He was spooked enough to jump the fence and abandon the goats all together. I found him in the back garden, standing where he could watch every approach vector. By the time I was ready to talk with him, he had wandered out to the woods between the house and the pasture. I locked the girls up in the barn and opened the gate for him, and Herc walked right back into the pasture like that was all he wanted. (This is only the second or third time that he has been completely loose, and I'm relieved that he wants to go home. I've been paranoid that he won't want to come back, and there's not a thing I can do to catch him.)

Hercules looked ok, if wet. But he had dried blood on his mouth. I'm hoping he just bit his tongue when he jumped the fence. But just in case, I put a call in to the vet for a second opinion on whether he needs a checkup.

I'm not too concerned about the goats being attacked by a bear. There is so much loose bear food around our neighborhood - bird feeders, trash cans, dog food - that there is not much risk of livestock loss. Chasing goats or sheep or even chickens is just too much bother when trash cans have more variety and don't run away. And all the animals except the chickens and the baby goats are up on their rabies shots.

ETA: I heard back from the vet office staff. They said to check on whether Herc is eating tonight. If he's not, the blood may be from a broken tooth rather than a sliced tongue and he might need vet help. So I'll check on him when I do evening rounds and collect eggs (to keep the bear-bait level down).
3rd-May-2016 03:10 pm (UTC)
Wow, scary. Clever idea, dumping cat litter over the trash - has this always been your practice?
3rd-May-2016 03:22 pm (UTC)
We only see a bear once every few years. My goal is to remove food sources and/or make them inconvenient and unattractive. So I won't say that it is always my practice to dump used cat litter on the trash, but it is certainly one of the methods that I keep in mind.
(Deleted comment)
5th-May-2016 12:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, he seems to have settled back down pretty well. He didn't eat his food on Tuesday, but chowed down on hay when I brought it out Tuesday night. Wednesday's food was gone. So I'll hope he's back to normal.
4th-May-2016 01:21 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness! Glad everyone's okay.

Give my best to Herc! Poor guy.
5th-May-2016 12:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, poor Herc, but I'm glad he was able to run away. I'm all in favor of successfully running away from big scary things with claws.
4th-May-2016 11:49 pm (UTC)
hopefully it was just a walk through and he's moving on to his summer residence.
5th-May-2016 12:26 pm (UTC)
I don't think the bears stick around on our street for very long. There are too many dogs and not enough dog-fences to make it a comfortable long-term residence for something so interesting as a bear.

We get a bear walk-through every couple of years. I expect a 40-mile pattern takes a while to walk.
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