Friday, May 10, 2013


Ruthie is a black bear and Roche Fleurie is part of Ruthie’s domain.  You can see her below. The reason you are not getting a close up is because,  if I can help it, I don’t get close to Ruthie. We have both decided to leave a large berth to the other.

Ursus Americanus
Ruthie the Black Bear

We did not name her. Not far from here is a national park, and they track “their” bears. Once at the park, reading about the various bear territories, we figured out that our house and garden were part of Ruthie’s dominion.  In the last 15 years, we usually have had a female bear visit the end of the field most evenings in spring, summer and fall.

This time of the year, dandelion is on the menu and it will soon be wild strawberries. In fall it is apples. In fact, the present Ruthie may be of a second or third generation. Four years ago she looked very poorly, seemed to be suffering from mange (at least a big patch of her fur was missing), and the following year there was no bear. Then last year, we were back to normal with a female and her cub. Sometimes in summer she will come with her boyfriend. This year there is also a cub. At least I saw one last week. I think the cub is still small enough to be hidden by the grass or the junipers.

Over the years, twice inadvertently I came face to face with Ruthie. In both cases, we looked at each other and started in opposite directions. In fact, the first time we did meet, we were on the same trail, both walking head down and heading towards each other. We each raised our heads at the very same moment, and I heard her inhale in surprise, exactly as I did. She does not want to get close to people. She is not stupid, we have never seen her in hunting season.

She has been known to climb on the neighbour’s deck at night. What attracts her is the gas barbecue. At Roche Fleurie we only have compost with no meat in it, and so she rarely visits the compost, although she won't turn up her nose at potato peelings and the like. She will come close to buildings only at night. Your best bet is to be noisy if you go out in the dark.

We used to have a humming bird feeder. It is shaped like a long thin bottle, filled with sugary water and has a small tube at the bottom. Most people around here have at least one of these next to a window, and most bears are familiar with these feeders. I believe they see them as soft drinks hangings from buildings, which, of course, is what they are. Ruthie tried one night to get ours off the hook it was hanging from. She was very discrete. She did not manage to get it as it was too high.

The only reason we figured out she had reached for it is because of the muddy paw mark with big claws that was stamped in the middle of the window. We no longer keep a humming bird feeder. At first, we thought we could have one out of a second floor window, but we changed our minds. We don’t want to have Ruthie hang around, trying to figure out how to get to that feeder. Besides, we get lots of hummingbirds visiting the flowers - as well as checking our windows. Hummingbirds have been trained to associate feeders and windows. They seem to think that feeders are a necessary appendage to any window, and will buzz around windows whether there is a feeder or not.

There are many wild apple trees around here, and in apple harvest season she will break branches. You should see her grab an apple tree by the trunk and shake it hard until all the apples fall off for her cub(s) waiting at the base of the tree.


  1. When I suggested putting sardines in your pots, it was only to provide a surprise for the raccoons. I did not know about Ruthie! Mea culpa.

  2. Wow, your own bear. Very cool!

  3. Excellent! Je ne sais pas si Douglas, après avoir lu l'article, voudra se rendre dans la peninsula de Bruce.

  4. Je ne sais pas si Douglas voudra se rendre dans la peninsule de Bruce après avoir lu cet article...

  5. This is really need! Sounds like you co-exist comfortably. A good reason for no hummingbird feeders!


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