Roseanne Gentry is used to seeing black bears in the wild, but when one climbed onto her porch and walked right up to the sliding glass doors of her house, that was something else.
“It’s just weird seeing one of them that close. It was just freaky,” she told Cowboy State Daily.
On June 20, the home that Gentry and her husband Kim own on Brinton Road just outside of Big Horn was the third and final house a young male black bear raided before Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens caught up with the bear and killed it.
No Bear Trouble Until This Year
Roseanne Gentry said they’ve lived on the property since 1992, but didn’t have any trouble with bears until recently. Racoons would sometimes raid their bird feeders, so she’s gotten into the habit of bringing the feeders inside at night.
She said the first time she spotted a black bear on their property was last October, when she went to an outbuilding to fetch some coal for her home’s heating stove.
“At first I thought a neighbor’s dog was loose, but then I looked closer and realized, ‘That’s not a dog, it’s a bear,’” she said.
That bear didn’t cause any trouble. But this spring, neighbors started having problems. And on the night of May 25, a surveillance camera caught footage of a female black bear with two cubs near the Gentrys’ shop building.
Gentry said Game and Fish agents later captured and relocated those bears.
Early this month, there was news of a young male black bear raiding properties in the neighborhood. Gentry said it walked into one house.
“Apparently, they left their screen door open and it just walked into the kitchen,” she said.
Gentry said she and her neighbors do all they can to discourage bears from coming into town.
“We always made sure to put our garbage cans inside our shop,” she said.
But on June 20, she got calls from neighbors that the young male bear was out and about again, and apparently heading her way.
Her 12-year-old grandson, Colter, who was staying with her, was thrilled.
“Bears are his favorite wild animal,” she said.
They spotted the bear at about 3 p.m.
“It started running up our driveway, and when it came up on my porch, I almost died,” Gentry said. “He was very agile. My deck railing is made from round posts, and he climbed right up there and was reaching for my humming bird feeder. And I was thinking, ‘Gosh darn it, don’t break my humming bird feeder.’”
As they took video, the Gentrys’ two Morkie dogs growled and barked. (Morkies are a Maltese and Yorkshire terrier cross).
“My dog Jazzy was jumping at the living room window and barking, and the bear took a swipe at Jazzy,” she said. “If he had swiped any harder, he probably would have broken the window.”
‘I Feel Bad’ The Bear Had To Be Killed
Game wardens were soon on the scene, Gentry said. They had a dog with them, and the bear was eventually cornered behind the Gentry’s shop.
“We heard the shots from inside the house,” she said.
“I feel bad that the bear had to be killed,” Gentry added. “Relocation wasn’t an option for him. He’d been into chickens and into people’s houses.”
‘They’re Smart And They’re Fast’
Gentry said she’s never been afraid of black bears. But now she has some apprehension, and will be on high alert when she and her friends go out for walks.
She hopes that other bears, which Game and Fish trapped and took back into the wild, will stay away from settled areas.
“They’re smart and they’re fast,” she said. “And you never know, that sow and her two cubs could come back here.”
The bear shot on Gentry’s property was the second one killed in the area this year. In May, a 6-year-old female was killed in Sheridan.
Black bears coming into settled areas has been an increasing problem in Sheridan and elsewhere across Wyoming and the West.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.