The closest real shopping mall to us is about 40 miles away. The first time I went there, I noticed a sign along the way with a silhouette of a bear on it. A little further along, there was another such sign with the clarifying information, “Bear Crossing Next .7 Miles.” For about 15 miles, there are similar signs along that road. It was a novelty when I first saw it, but, passing it again today, it got me wondering about a few things.
First, how do the bears know where to cross? Can they read the signs? And with such precision! I mean, bears must have a pretty finely tuned sense of direction to know they are supposed to not only cross at a certain point in the highway, but also to know that they are supposed to stop crossing the road in exactly seven-tenths of a mile.
Secondly, what if a bear crosses the street somewhere other than the authorized bear-crossing zone? Is there a fine? Bear jail? And who enforces the bear traffic laws? Is there a bear police force somewhere? And are the bears entitled to free legal representation? By a bear-ister, maybe?
Finally, why do they even have signs telling me about these bear crossings zones? I mean, what am I supposed to do if I am tooling on home from Macy’s one evening and come upon a bear meandering its way across my path? Yield? Of course. After that, what do I do? Sit still and try not to look like a marmalade sandwich?
Bears are a part of living in central Florida. Who knew? I assumed there might be alligators and bugs and snakes. I wasn’t issuing any invitation to the alligators, bugs, and snakes to stop by for a bar-be-cue, but I knew it was possible that I would encounter them. For some reason, I never thought about bears.
I like bears as much as the next person. In fact, I probably like bears more than the next person. I have spent hours upon hours watching bears at zoos. I drove about 200 miles round trip recently to visit Bearadise Ranch, a private home/ranch where a family has been raising bears and training them to work in the entertainment industry for several generations. I personally own about 35 teddy bears (yes, I know that is more than any five-or-six-year-old should own, not to mention more than a 56-year-old should own). Max and I refer to ourselves as the “Bear Family.”
Still, I don’t think I actually want to see a bear in the wild. Or, more precisely, in the what-used-to-be-the-wild. Like my backyard.
My mother said she heard on the news that there was a recent bear sighting within the confines of our town. She thought they said it was on Mason Avenue. Now, unless the bear needed orthodontia or treatment for a random fishing accident or to have his toenails clipped, I am not sure what he was doing on Mason Avenue. Mason Avenue is the main medical drag for our town. The street is literally lined with doctors and dentists and hospitals. It is sometimes difficult even to find space to park a car, much less space to park a bear. There are certainly no “bear crossing” signs on Mason Ave. I’m not sure how a bear even COULD wander into this area. If he did, I am sure he found the whole experience quite disconcerting. I think it must have been like Alice falling down the rabbit hole for the bear. In fact, maybe that’s it. Maybe the bear was chasing a rabbit and fell down the hole and, instead of landing in Wonderland, he landed in MasonMedicalLand.
It turns out that the state of Florida maintains a website that reports bear sightings. There is a listing for each sighting. There is a map with a little red dot for each sighting. I guess this answers the question about what you are supposed to do if you do experience a bear sighting. You are supposed to report it so the nice people at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can put another red dot on the map. That may or may not be all that helpful. Right now, you can’t even tell where the sightings actually are. There are so many sightings that the map is literally covered with overlapping red dots. The individual sighting listing was more helpful in my quest for information about our native son of a bear. Yes, there was a bear sighting just within the confines of our town, but it was on Old Mason Ave. Old Mason Avenue is a bit more rural and extends a good distance into the far reaches of the town frontier. If the bear actually was looking for orthodontia, I think he was probably out of luck on Old Mason Avenue.
There is still the fact that I am sharing my zip code with at least one bear. There goes the neighborhood. Of course, the bear would say that the neighborhood “left” long ago when the first developer built the first housing community in the area. Who is to say which perspective is correct?
So what are your thoughts? Anyone else have any musings about the “bear necessities?” Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. You can email me at:
Have a just right kind of day!
8 thoughts on “Smarter Than The Average Bear”
Interesting write-up…..we have bears in Northern CO as well. Just this morning at my Art class, a lady said that in Estes Park, in the Rocky Mt. area she had a bear who actually got into her cabin there and walked into her kitchen, when she was not there, and got into her fridge and ate quite a few items from her storage there. He broke into the front window and went directly to the kitchen. I think he was familiar with the food parts of the cabin. Nothing else was disturbed in the cabin. I believe they are preparing for winter and must eat so will get into any place that may have food.
Just had to share this story from Northern CO. We do have bears in our towns around here as well. Guess they were here first!
Wow! I guess bears are pretty smart. Or at least pretty single-minded. Never mind the gold and diamonds, they go straight for the leftover pizza.
First of all, this has revealed yet another thing we have in common! I too have collected bears (teddies and small figurines) over the years! My reaction to the bear crossing signs has always been “I hope I see one this time”!! And on our last drive up to St. Augustine at the beginning of August, we spotted a mother bear and her adorable cub along side the road on Route 19!! She was strolling along the edge of the Ocala National Forest and although I was thrilled to actually see a bear in the wild, it was a bit scary- I certainly maintain a healthy respect for these beautiful but potentially deadly creatures!! -Kathy
Wow- a momma bear and baby! How cool is that. I know the momma has a huge potential to kill if she somehow perceives that you are threatening her baby, but part of me thinks it might be worth the risk. Baby bear cuteness is pretty darn tempting!🐻
I had no idea bears wandered loose in Florida, unless it was near Disney’s Wild Kingdom area. Funny and well-written. Thanks for introducing me to your blog.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Bob!
Hi Terri. Just discovered your blog via Bob Lowry’s website. I read back to the beginning of when you started writing, and I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog! I like your style of writing.
As a relatively new blogger myself, I have one tip for you (if this interests you). You could offer a place on your blog for people to subscribe via email. I’m pretty sure wordpress offers this as an option. I’m sure this would help you to develop a nice following.
We live in central NY, but for the last few years have been spending winters in FL. We stay on the east coast. Past winters were spent in New Smyrna, but this year we are joining friends and will stay in Cocoa Beach. We’ve thought about moving there, but for now it makes sense to just go there for the worst of winter.
Good luck, and I’ll enjoy following your blog.
Hi Carole and Welcome!
Thanks for reading and commenting… and for the tip! I wasn’t sure how to do the subscription thingy, but your comment prompted me to do some investigating. I’ve now added a plug-in to allow for subscriptions by email. If anyone wants to (hint, hint, hint), you can just go to the leave a comment section and part of that form now allows you to check a box if you would like to be notified of new content and/or comment updates. I have been posting every Wednesday morning, for those of you who are curious but don’t want to go the email notification route.
I would love to know more about your Florida adventures, Carole. I’ll stop by your blog. I’ve not found my way to New Smyrna Beach (which I understand is “the” place for local central Floridians to get their beach on) nor Cocoa, so I am interested to hear your perspective!
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