Who’s Out at Lathrop, # 1

by Barbara Walvoord

No, we’re not talking about some old lesbians, though some of us, too, are “out” at Lathrop and feel warmly welcomed.

But today, we’re talking about our Lathrop creatures who have been hiding in dens or burrowing into the ground, coming out now as the weather warms, welcomed by Lathrop’s residents, who’ve been waiting for spring.

Of course, we have to begin with our bears. Has anyone seen a bear at Lathrop yet this spring?

If you don’t bring in your bird feeders, you may see them where you don’t want them–knocking down your bird feeder pole with one powerful swipe, or climbing onto your porch. Think about your garbage cans, too, and don’t leave open your garage door with bird seed or other goodies inside.

Once a bear finds food someplace, it will return again and again in future years.

But if you respect bears, you are quite safe. The last time a person was killed by a bear in New Hampshire was 1784. (I don’t know about Massachusetts.)

So go to your cocktail parties and trade bear stories with your friends–Sharon and I will happily tell you about the bear that came after our groceries as we were unloading them from the car in our former home), but don’t stay away from our beautiful woodland paths just because you’re afraid of bears.

If you’re nervous about bears when you walk in our woods, just make some noise. A bear wants to avoid you. If you do encounter a bear, make eye contact and back away slowly. Don’t turn your back. Don’t run (bears can run up to 35 miles an hour, so even your grandchildren can’t compete, let alone you). If you see a cub, be careful; the mother is probably nearby.

In 1850, there were only a few bears around here, and none in Connecticut. Since then, they’ve made a comeback, due in part to abandoned farms growing up into woods–which is us. Bears play an important role in the health of our land, and they were here long before we were. We can figure out how to share our land with these powerful, smart, and acrobatic creatures.

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