Growing up in Whitefish, Montana, I saw three moose, thousands of deer, mountains of pigeons who lived atop the viaduct and who now have transitioned over to the roof of the O’Shaunessy Center but never, not ever, one bear.
In the past month, almost 20 black bears have been spotted roaming the village of Whitefish, which is more than in the past 30 years, at least that I can remember. They are snooping through garbage cans, chicken coups, just about anywhere to find victuals.
Meanwhile, in South Kalispell, a mountain lion was spotted meandering down South Woodland Drive, where two boys, about 8 and 10, were outside. The boys went in, then told their neighbor, who then told me. Never has a “lion” been spotted in this part of town, although it’s quite wooded and secluded. That was haunting to hear for sure.
Back to the bears. Two blocks down (again on South Woodland Drive), three mature pear trees are chocked full and teaming with fruit this year. Upon first picking, we discovered “bear scat,” to my surprise. Among the innocent little deer droppings was this bear “pile.” I just stared at it like a foreign object, yet knowing full well exactly what it was.
“This can’t be my neighborhood,” I thought and then speculated, “well at least it was just one “scat.” Fast forward 4 days. With a bucket in hand and ladder strapped high up on top of the Tahoe, off we went for our 15th bucketload of pears; however could there ever be that many in the “drought of 21” the worst heat and smoke year EVER we will never know. This time we spotted 4 more “scats.” I’m out.
Into the “pear neighbor’s” yard drives, our other neighbor who cheerfully continued to tell us (the pear picking party) that a GRIZZLY BEAR had been spotted just up from the nearby pond behind her house, which was less than two blocks from MY HOUSE. No, thank you very much. This grandma of ten watches her babies like a hawk.
Fast forward two more weeks. My teenage son and I were looking out our back door because we heard a “squeaking sound,” which ended up being two enormous raccoons! We had actually spied one last March and now spotted two scurrying over the fence like chubby toddlers. So what is happening to my neighborhood?
About a half-mile east of our place is “Leisure Island,” where the Stillwater River runs close to residences. Last spring, a Momma sow, and two cubs were wandering in that area, and the FWP put up signs for folks to “be aware” (be beary aware).
Just three weeks ago in that same neighborhood, a young Grizzly was caught on someone’s outside security camera.
And it’s pretty common knowledge that Bigfork has a slew of wildlife roaming the neighborhoods down their way, most often mountain lions.
It’s the season where this grandma may have to carry pepper spray just to take a walk down the block instead of treats for the kiddies.
This Op-Ed was written by Brenda Roskos