Friday, August 8, 2014

Killington Bear

Yesterday I was playing tennis at a place called The Summit Lodge in Killington, Vermont.  There are two St. Bernards that actually live at the Lodge and a French Bulldog that goes to work there with his owner.  I heard a commotion and saw the three dogs running at full-speed across the road and behind the maintenance building, with the Bulldog’s owner in pursuit, trying to get them to go back where they belong.  I was surprised at how fast the St. Bernards could move, but didn’t pay any attention beyond that.
A couple of minutes later I heard a racket in the bushes behind the maintenance building and the tennis courts.  I thought that the dogs were probably chasing a chipmunk and hoped it got away.  The next thing I knew, one of the St. Bernards was barking and looking up a tree, and one of the tennis players yelled, “There’s a bear in the tree!”
Sure enough, just 10 feet from the tennis courts was a tree with a medium-sized bear in it.  The one St. Bernard kept barking from the bottom of the tree, while the other two dogs kept their distance.  The bear had to readjust his perch a few times when branches broke under his weight, but he settled on a strong, thick one and hung on for dear life.  The poor bear looked terrified. 
Photo by Carol Moriarity
A few of the Lodge’s guests came down to look and take pictures.  They didn’t seem to realize that there was nothing between them and the bear. 
Photo by Diane Rosenblum.  You can see the top of someone's cap at the bottom-right of the photo.  
Those of us who were playing tennis stayed behind the wire fence, which probably wouldn’t have protected us for long.  Not to mention that the fence doesn’t even go all the way around the tennis courts.  Good thing that black bears are almost never aggressive!
The dogs and the gawkers finally went away.  The rest of us thought that the bear had been through enough stress and we went back to playing tennis.  We assumed that if we moved away from the fence, the bear would come down from the tree and leave.  After about ten minutes we heard what sounded like tree branches breaking, but it was actually the sound of the bear’s claws on the bark as he climbed down.  We all stood quietly where we were so that we wouldn't spook him.  When he got to the ground, he stood there looking at us for a few seconds.  Then he took a few steps toward the Lodge, changed his mind, and went back into the bushes and down the hill.
We found out later that the bear had been on the lawn in front of the Lodge and the dogs had chased it from there.
I’ve heard that there are several hundred bears living in Killington, especially on Bear Mountain.  We’ve even had them go through our yard, but this is the closest I’ve ever been to a wild bear.  It was VERY exciting!

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