Just grin and bear it!

Adding to our Atlantis attractions this summer, suddenly we have the invasion of bears by the number. By actual count around our town dump Saturday, there were 16 of our favourite carnivores rummaging for anything at all to eat.
But before everyone starts packing for safer spots to be, and our tourists decide to stay away, we offer every assurance, because of our familiarity with this problem, that our bears have never in known memory attacked anyone, or become vicious enough to frighten most of us–although some dogs or cats may become missing.
Black bears are not notably molesters of humans like grizzlies or polar bears, but they are not to be regarded as backyard ornaments either.
Keep your distance! They do frequent backyards as our garbage men will attest and the town may soon be issuing new rules against indiscriminate littering. It seems bears will appear along streets receiving garbage collection that day or night, as Phair Avenue residents have reported. The bears have a keen sense of smell.
As something for biologists to consider, mother bears more and more are regularly accompanied by three cubs whereas two cubs used to be the norm. Such was the case up Phair Avenue last Wednesday, when neighbours gathered in Howie Costello’s backyard while gardens were being plundered.
Bears make a mess of gardens and those sad northenders with their mill pollution problem have too much to worry about already. Spoilage for that reason has become expensive and even heart-breaking. Good gardeners have become scarce.
Causing the bear worries is the failure of the local wild blueberry crop. Our desert heat of the past two months was just too much for our favourite fruit as they became unfit to pick.
The bears went looking for alternate food supplies, and coming among us.
The normally shy but burly creatures searching for friendly handouts, are inferring “We let you pick our berries almost every other summer, now it’s turn to be your guests!”
It wasn’t berries though, that attracted a bear family to a tree in the front of Nancy Tucker’s island home one recent summer. Suddenly there were a mother and three cubs as regular visitors, and Nancy, with her husband away that year, notified the MNR.
The conservation officers, however, told her they were busy checking on live bear traps around the country schools–while night after night Nancy’s new friends clambered up her tree on Lobstick Island to sleep.
Early one morning a gun went off repeatedly and Nancy’s oldest son, 13, had emptied that tree and raised a fresh problem. To dispose of four dead bears, the family had to roll them into a skiff and tow them out to a seagull rock.
Only the next week the same problem occurred with a mother and two cubs. The bears just kept on coming, as we remember well, Nancy being a neighbour at the time.
Now listen to the advice of Sam Arbuckle, a veteran of the bush: Take a plastic bottle and fill it with household ammonia, then hang it on your garbage barrel for the bears to find. Sam claims this will discourage your prowlers better than anything when they bite into that bottle!
• • •
Jerry Benshoof of Hopkins Bay reports he has just written the U.S. president and two federal senators a letter of protest against the new U.S. tax on imported softwood supplies from Canada. Jerry’s winter home is Bloomington, Mn., and he claims letters sent directly to the president are effective! I’ve heard that before and will be waiting to hear about return mail on the subject.
• • •
If there was ever a perfect hostess for a lawn barbecue, it’s Rosemary von Niebelschutz. She invited several of us over last week to sample some of her sensational recipes. Hardly your average outdoor meal! Maybe she’ll part with some tips. Rosemary comes from Switzerland.
• • •
Jerry Arason of International Falls is exactly the same age (69) as his well-known bodyshop business that was founded by his father while the Arasons still lived in Fort Frances many years ago. (He donated one of his well-designed pens to me–without expecting any free advertising). His brother Walter, who moved to Alberta and rose high in railroad employment, was in high school with us here.
• • •
I called her Marilyn Mudge last week after she kindly reported on that big Mudge reunion at Mine Centre, but my informant was Marilyn Bell, actually a third generation Mudge like almost everyone else present. And I’m saying if we need a social reporter, Marilyn should get the job.
• • •
It’s exactly one year today since my wife Emily left us so abruptly. This was such a shocker for so many that more than 400 mourners packed into Emo Legion for the funeral service. Yet folks I have met since are fond of remembering her for her good humour and joking.
Our family, including four children and five grandchildren, gather regularly as she always enjoyed. In fact, dinner every Sunday noon was her weekly treat for us. We still do that, only not so regularly. With the full family together again Monday, we wished success at Ottawa University to one of Emily’s favourite people, granddaughter Alexis.

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