Unexpected encounter with wildlife

This weekend, we were at our cabin bordering the Shenandoah National Park. It was noon, I had a book, a beer and a bag of chips as my dog and I headed out the door to sit on the porch. I was about as relaxed as I get when I opened the door and stood looking into the eyes of a black bear sow 10 feet from the door. She was with her cub and clearly did not know we were home. Black bears are shy and they both took off running back in to the woods. My dog, who is afraid of vacuum cleaners and our new kitten, took off after them. So there I am, running barefoot behind them through the forest trying to get my dog to stop before he catches up to the cub and learns the meaning of the phrase “momma bear.” I get him to stop and he acts like he had just chased a squirrel in the park, no big deal and trots back to the cabin. Meanwhile, I’m trembling from the adrenaline.

Oh my!! I’d be trembling too. Animal vs. animal can be a terrifying thing!

I thought my run-in today was trying…some wild turkeys were in the neighbor’s yard and my girl dog, who rarely has an interest in anything, has spent all morning trying to figure out how to get over the fence and smell the long-gone turkeys some more.

I’d be a lot more than trembling. I’d be taking off my pants, to wash the shit outta them.

I would have had to do some laundry myself. Kipling was right when he said “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

Yeah it was a weird, jarring moment. I had picked up a big stick (almost a log) an I was just about to try and clobber my dog with it when he stopped running. I wouldn’t normally hit my dog, but I really felt like his life was in danger and I had to stop him from catching up to the cub. He stopped, not as soon as I would have like, but he stopped.

I was hiking south of the Shenandoah National Park several years ago and encountered a mother bear and cubs. The bears left the trail and went up over the ridge with my stupid dog in hot pursuit. I thought that might be it for Pedro, but after a several minutes he reappeared from the woods panting heavy but with a big grin on his face. Bad dog.

Your loyalty to your dog is admirable, but chasing after him could have been a big mistake. Had the bear turned back on him, he would have probably been quick and elusive enough to escape, and you would have run right into the bear. Biotop was wise to leave his dog to his fate which, fortunately, involved no confrontation with the bear.

Defense of cubs is a brown bear (Ursus arctos) trait; the American black bear (U. americanus) is rarely aggressive and generally only when it is cornered, although the rare predatory behavior is seen in about 1 out of 600,000 bears. Black bear sows teach the cubs to climb as pretty much the first skill after they leave the den. That being said, it is wise of the o.p. to keep his dog from chasing after wild animals just because of other injuries it could incur. Hopefully the experience will convince the sow and cub to steer clear of cabin, but that are naturally curious animals who often learn to forage around human structures even if no food or trash is present.


Any kind of black bear attack on people is extremely rare, but a woman was mauled by a black bear in Maryland in 2016 when her dogs treed a cub.

I saw my first black bear in the wild earlier this summer. He was trotting across the runway at the airport. He stopped just off the runway, had a look around and kept on going. Very healthy looking and pretty large. I saw my second one a few weeks later - dead in stream, unfortunately. Likely hit by a car a week or so before. Both were in central Pennsylvania. I once saw a mature bull moose at close range (25-30’) while walking on a trail in Nova Scotia. Now THAT was impressive.

We’ve been seeing lots of them this year, but not always this up-close and personal. Last year I was fly fishing in a the Shenandoah National Park when one came down the bank and started to cross it right opposite me. I said, 'hey bear, do you see me?" and waved my arm and he took off. About a month ago we were walking with the Mutt in the park and walked passed a bear in a small clearing near the trail and the Mutt never noticed.

I once went out my front door to encounter a mama doe and two fawns. I stood there, enchanted by their beauty and fully aware that if I made any movement towards the fawns, Mama Doe would kick my ass.

They stayed there about 5 minutes, holding me hostage until they ran away.

List of fatal bear attacks in North America. An interesting read.

Years ago I was hiking through Porcupine Mountains State Park with a friend (western Michigan U.P., on the Wisconsin border). We had stopped by Mirror Lake for lunch when a black bear came down the trail and came directly toward us. We started backing up toward the lake, and I dropped a bag of beef jerky on the ground, thinking he was smelling the food. But he walked right past the jerky and kept coming toward us until he was about 5 feet away. We couldn’t back up any more without going for a swim. Finally he decided we weren’t that interesting and took off.

It was kinda nerve-wracking but not as scary as I thought an encounter with a black bear would be, mainly because he didn’t seem threatening-- more like a big friendly curious dog.Being a State Park bear, he was probably used to people and their unguarded food (not jerky though apparently).

A great read is Night of the Grizzlies about two separate bear attacks on the same night in Glacier National Park. I see black bears quite a bit in the mountains, but this encounter had the unexpected surprise factor coupled with my dog deciding that bears were something to be chased rather than avoided.

I was hiking through the woods with the dogs when I turned a corner and saw two yearling cubs up in a huge oak tree. They were in the hugging the tree position. I didn’t see a mama around. The dogs spotted them immediately and ran over to the tree. They were just about to the tree when the bears dropped/scrabbled down and took off deeper into the woods. When they dropped, Luca the boxer/French Mastiff mix had a look on his face like Scooby Do! I could almost hear him say “ZOIKS!” He came running back to me as fast as he could. Romeo, the boxer, on the other hand, took off like a flash after the bears. I thought OMG their mama must be close by. I had Luca on his leash and I was screaming for Romeo. Finally, (it was probably less than a minute - seemed longer) he came running back as happy as ever. I still think about that and think, what if…

A few city ones, with non-dangerous animals:

Driving my kid home one day, and we see, running through our neighbor’s yard: a fox. Tra-la-la, running along, just bein’ a fox. Apparently I wasn’t the first to see it, either: my mother-in-law had photographed it in our front yard, and our other neighbor had a picture from a few days earlier where Foxy was chillin’ on our roof. I’m guessing s/he was climbing trees to look for eggs.

Once, in the middle of town, I was pulling out onto one of the major streets and saw: a roadrunner. Roadrunners are very distinctive, so I’m quite sure of what it was. I said, “Man, you are lost.” What’s a roadrunner doing in town? These aren’t the roads you should be running on!

Driving the kiddo to school one morning, I saw, trundling down the shoulder of the road: a porcupine. First living one I’ve seen, I very occasionally have seen a car-struck porcupine beside the road. He was cute, and fat.