“We’ve moved into a freakin’ Mutual of Omaha nature documentary.”

July 18th, 2007 by Jeff | 2 Core Dumps

Back when we still lived in North Carolina, we had the odd encounter or two with wildlife around the house. The back of our yard sat next to a wooded area, and there were plenty of birds and small mammals roaming about but they rarely made an appearance. You could hear the occasional owl hooting and sometimes while driving on the main road you’d see a deer or two gallop across. A couple of times we had little black lizards scramble into the house, much to the delight of our younger cat Kiki (who quickly earned the nickname “the Mighty Huntress”). But aside for these isolated incidents and the occasional “present” left in the yard by a neighborhood dog, that was about it.

But since we’ve moved back to West Virginia, it seems Mother Nature has been making more and more house calls. It’s not like there’s a big difference between the two locations; both houses are in relatively rural areas, but not all that distant from civilization. Still, we’ve had more critter issues in the year we’ve been back than we had in all nine years or so we had down South.

I’ve already mentioned, of course, the peacock. Since the weather has turned warmer, we’ve seen a lot less of him. We figure he’ll perch on our back porch again once winter comes. He seems to now prefer a tree across the street to roost in and spends a lot of time in another yard further up the hill. (There are two chihuahuas that live up there, and we often imagine them being terrorized by this great big blue buzzard strutting through their territory.) He has made a few appearances this summer, though, even once walking up on the back porch right next to my wife and Ben as the little guy was playing in his sand box.

However, it seems our trash has become the neighborhood buffet. I’ve caught a big, fat raccoon rummaging about, leaving muddy paw prints all over the lids and chewing holes in the bottom corners of the cans. One day I left a couple of trash bags on the porch while I went back in to empty the cats’ boxes, only to apprehended a local dog (a liver and white spaniel of some sort) snacking when I got back. But last night took the cake.

It was getting late, around 9:30 PM. We had just managed to get Ben to fall asleep; he hates going to bed and usually fights naps and bedtime with a passion until he’s collapses in exhaustion. We were waiting for him to fall into a good deep sleep so he wouldn’t be disturbed when he put him in his crib. My wife was holding him on one couch while I sat on the other, watching whatever was on the TV at the time. Then I heard a loud crash outside. Our first instinct was Ben. Yep, he’s still asleep. I then stood up and peeked through the blinds to see what caused the noise. I did a double-take, then quietly jogged to the front door and opened it so I could get a good look through the glass storm door. My wife looked at me with an expression that seemed to ask “What’s going on?” at the same time as warning me “You better not wake the boy.” When I didn’t answer, she eventually verbalized the question.

I responded, “A bear. A big black bear. Rummaging through our garbage.”

Sure enough, there he sat. (Or she; there’s no way to tell at that distance.) Silhouetted by the street lamp on the garage across the street, he shoved his big head deep in the trash can, pulled a bag out with his teeth, and sauntered across the road to the neighbor’s yard to consume his dinner. My wife got up, still holding a sleeping Ben, and walked up beside me, mouth agape. We watched him for several minutes as he dined on the contents of one can and proceeded to knock down the other and continue the buffet.

Well, what exactly are you supposed to do in this situation? We called animal control, but of course their office was closed. My wife then called 911, and they said we should call the Department of Natural Resources. However, the DNR (also closed for the night) probably wouldn’t do anything unless the bear was injured or was a threat to humans. He definitely looked fat and healthy to me, and he was perfectly content to snack in solitude. So we stood there and watched him chow down for several minutes until he had his fill and eventually meandered off. My wife begged me not to go out and clean up the mess, even though half our garbage was strewn across the neighbor’s lawn.

After the encounter was over, my wife put Ben down and called her mom. The first thing she said when her mom answered was the subject line of this post: “We’ve moved into a freakin’ Mutual of Omaha nature documentary.” My first thought upon hearing that line was “That has to be the subject line for the blog post.”

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll end up seeing Marlin Perkins or Peter Davison outside in our lawn soon….

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