Early this week we got a call from a neighbor across the canyon. "A grizzly bear is hanging around our house. Make sure you kids get a ride up to the bus." Douglas always drives them up, so that was no problem, but it shook us out of our complacency.
We've known there have been bear hanging out all summer, as some of our neighbors have prowled about with their guns looking for it. However, we'd assumed it was a black bear since we ran into one nearby in early summer. Black bears don't bother us as much as "brownies" or "grizzlies". Just the afternoon before this call our kids were picking crowberries in the canyon. We know canyons are favorite places for bears--both to hang out and to hibernate. But we hadn't heard about one in the area for a few months, so I gave the kids the ok to go exploring. They'd come dashing back into the house for bags to pick crowberries in a big patch they found on the canyon wall, and headed right back out. Luckily Denver has a loud voice, so we all feel somewhat safer when he is with us warning the wildlife of our presence.
But the bear alert in the morning, along with some of our trash scattered about put us on high alert. We purchased a bear-proof trash can, we've taken to carrying our .44 when we go for walks and the kids haven't had the desire to go exploring lately despite beautiful sunshiny weather. We're counting down till the bears go into hibernation, which is any time now. Since the snow we had earlier in Octber is gone, it has just been cold. When bears go into hibernation varies depending on a number of factors, including food supply, elevation, temperature, whether it has cubs, and amount of snow covering their food supply.
We'd gotten complacent about wildlife alertness, so this has raised it in our consciousness. It doesn't feel that "wild" up here in Alaska now that we're used to it. This is a good reminder to stay alert and aware.