A Bear of a Time

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We’ve been having bear trouble lately. And with it came government trouble. Better said, it is government that created the trouble and has made the trouble worse – as government always does. 

The bear has been literally tearing apart sheds – and coops – on my and several neighbors’ property for the past going on two weeks. The other night, my neighbor lost all 15 of his chickens after the bear ripped off the door to his coop, entered and had a nice big supper. I lost eight birds myself a few days before. The bear keeps coming back – for the same reason most people keep going to the supermarket. 

It’s where the food is.       

It is hard to blame the bear for wanting to eat – and the bear has no moral sense. It is just a bear, after all. But then there is government – which also has no moral sense, though it is personified – made manifest – by human beings, who ought to have it. 

Instead, they have power. 

As manifested in the person of the game warden – a form of government worker who has the power to march, at will, onto what people delude themselves into considering their property and to forbid the putative owner of the property – who paid for it and is obliged to pay what are styled “taxes” to retain conditional possession of it, even if the place is entirely “paid off” – from taking action to prevent damage being done  to the property he paid for and thought he owned, for that silly reason.

It is illegal, you see, to shoot a bear out of “season” – the government’s arbitrary declaration of the times when a property owner – ha! – is given permission by the property’s true owner to hunt on what he thought was his own land. Permission is not granted otherwise – unless specifically granted – even in the case of a clear and recurrent threat not only to the property but even to the putative owner. 

A marauding adult bear is a fearsome thing. A male can weigh more than 400 pounds and – when standing – stands as high as seven feet tall. Surprised or aggravated, it can make short work of any unarmed person who ventures outside at night to check on that noise – on something trying to break into the shed. The obvious thing is to not venture outside unarmed – and to shoot the bear, in the event it attacks. 

Or destroys.

But that is seriously illegal, “out of season.” The person defending himself – and his property – risks arrest and even jail for attempting to deal with the marauding bear.

Where is this government person styled “game warden” when the bear is marauding?

As is almost always the case with armed government workers, he is not there to prevent the bear from marauding. Just as the government workers who wear black and cammo rather than green are invariably never around when other things that walk on two legs do their marauding. The victim of the marauding is expected – is legally obliged – to supinely allow the marauding. 

You are denied the right to protect what you thought was your property – and even yourself. Both being the property of the government – in the eyes of government.

Perhaps the game warden will offer rubber bullets and give you permission to shoo away the bear in this manner. If it merely enrages the bear, better have more than rubber bullets on hand – and be prepared to deal with the results quietly and quickly. The bears are tagged, you see. So that the government workers know where the bear is and has been. If the last place the bear was turns out to be where you are, you will have some ‘splaining to do, Lucy.

For this reason – purely hypothetically, of course – it is important that the bear (his remains) find their way  . . . somewhere else. This is no easy thing when dealing with 400 plus pounds of bear. Take a cue from Goodfellas – and avail yourself of a chainsaw and a tarp.

It may not all fit in your trunk, of course.

Humor aside, there is the not-funny aspect of this business – that being the government’s intrusion (again) into what is none of its proper business. The effrontery of the government, which sends minions out to the land you bought (and paid for) and empowers these minions, whom you are forced to pay, to insolently dictate to you not only what you may and may not do on what you thought was your property but also that you may not act to prevent damage to your property.

The game warden isn’t paying for the ripped-to-shreds doors (and birds) nor compensating people for the time and trouble of having to deal with it all. He isn’t guarding the property with the sidearm he wears – which isn’t for the bears. If you call him when the bear is in the process of marauding, he will take note of your call and perhaps show up later to have a look – long after the bear is gone.

The game warden is of course not concerned about the damage to your property because he’s not the one paying for it. He is interested in his power over your property – which is to say, over you. He is like the Sheriff of Nottingham, only more galling because at least the sheriff of Robin Hood fame didn’t make the poor serfs pay for the land they weren’t allowed to hunt on. It was clearly the king’s land – all of the land.

Come to think of it, the same’s true in our time, too. Only we’re allowed to fiction of being property owners – and expected to pay for the maintenance of this infelicitous delusion.

. . .

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  1. Often farmers /rural land owners are legally allowed to defend their livestock from predators, under at least some circumstances, sometimes without a license.

    I don’t know what the law is in Virginia, but it might be worth a look.

  2. A long time ago a grocer in a small town had a rat problem. My FIL was an electrician, wired many houses, owned an appliance store, traded appliances for hard goods, gave credit, some never paid.

    He was friends with the grocer. He electrified a wire grid, possibly a hardware cloth, set bait in the middle of the wire grid, the next day, there were dead rats galore in a back room of the grocery store.

    The grocer was presented an award for solving a recurrent problem.

    Rat poison works too, inhibits Vitamin K, the rat dies bleeding to death.

    Use some 10 gauge copper wire, make a grid, bait the electric trap, the bear will feel the effects of Old Sparkey. He might live, he won’t be back.

  3. I seem to recall the ability to get a pest permit when I lived in VA.

    We’d hunt on a friends vinyard, and were allowed to clear any deer we could.

    That said. You can eat bear.

    If it was a recurring visitation, I’d blow it away, no questions asked, no comments given.

    “Was that you shootin?” Yup, trying to scare away a critter. Drag it into the barn, clear the blood trail, if there is one.

  4. Just wait till a bear kills somebody’s kid, then it won’t matter whether or not it’s “in season”.

  5. Wow eric have they tagged all the bears there? Its crazy.

    Here in the UK we have the issue of foxes. Basically, apparently those evil “rich” people used to hunt foxes for sport. As its also cruel to kill fantastic Mr Fox, the noble politicians enacted laws to prevent people from killing them. The net result – foxes are everywhere, and as the population grows in the wild and on farmlands, they come more and more into the cities, even extremely densely crowded parts of London will now have the occasional fox. Now the thing is some of these bastards can be aggressive, especially to children. And every now and again when a child is attacked, the good people in government have a “fox cull” – where a politician hands a buddy a contract worth 10s of millions of pounds to “cull” them – which is more humane than the gentleman who hunted them for sport or a deplorable farmer who shot them to protect their chicken…..

  6. Hey Eric,

    Off topic, but how is your friend doing, who had the ‘Rona? Fully recovered and back to his normal self, I hope.

  7. “If the last place the bear was turns out to be where you are, you will have some ‘splaining to do, Lucy.” -EP

    Never ‘splain anything to gestapo agents. Just shut the f*ck up. Don’t answer the door. Record their trespass. If they charge you let a lawyer do the talking. NOTHING good can come from talking to these parasites. They can even lie in court and put words in your mouth after the fact which will be viewed as sacrosanct by the criminal injustice system. This includes traffic stops. Produce no papers as this is evidence to be used against you. Identify yourself with name and DOB, not their filthy ID.


  8. Firstly, RIP Ray Liota. Shame he died so early.

    Nextly, perhaps after dispatching Smokey, you can remove the tag, take it to a remote location, attach it to a weather balloon, and let it ascend into the heavens. That way it appears that the magnificent creature spontaneously evolved and took to the skies.

    Theoretically, he then becomes a problem for the Air Force, rather than your friendly Forest Ranger.

    • Or drop the bear’s carcass off at the front gate of “Jellystone Park” and let Mr. Ranger (whichever version) deal with him.

      And plug “Boo-Boo’s” whiney ass while you’re at it!

      • I am disappointed in the suggestions to drop Yogi’s butt somewhere. Bears are very valuable commodities and times right now are lean and mean. You may need new clothes or a bearskin rug. How about food for the next year? You can take its claws and create a necklace (FYI this is actually considered good luck). You may also need something different than the old deer head over the fireplace. Nothing says “don’t mess with me” than a bear head over the mantle. Hell, maybe hire a taxidermist and have Yogi stuffed and put him out by the chicken coop to warn other bears what will happen to them if they cross into your domain. 🙂

  9. We’ve been dealing with troublesome “Blacks” (bears that is) for 2+ decades.

    The electric fence won’t work. Been there, done that.

    Violent re-education is a key first thing to try. UDAP bear mace (in the magnum size) and a short barrelled 12g loaded first with one rubber baton or rubber buckshot(not as good), then all high-brass 00 buck or Black Magic hardcast slugs.

    Key is to inflict pain onto the bear without the bear also tearing your head off.

    Good news is the less-lethal rubber baton rounds from a 12g work best and have a good 50+ foot range. They’ll kill a man if struck in the head/spine so watch your background and beware they do bounce like crazy if you miss.

    Every bear has a different personality but I’ve never had one return if I was able to physically induce pain/fear. Of course the problem here is there are 5+ new bears every season.

    Beware mothers with cubs and very old scraggly looking thin bears. These are the most dangerous and will likely need the slugs if things go sideways. The enormous 400+ pound males are curiously the least likely to attack.

    Make sure you’re practicing a lot with the 12g….

  10. “Gosh Yogi, I don’t think the ranger’s gonna like this.”
    “Ah well, fuck the ranger, Boo-boo!”

    Wow, I really didn’t think the culprit would be a bear. The bear can be tolerated and defended against though…the warden, who asserts that the government not only has primary claim to our property, but also has primary dominion over all creatures within it’s domain, somehow, is another matter. A bear trap might offer some protection against the latter…but I’d hate to see the former get hurt……

  11. Does anyone feel that, anecdotally, wildlife’s attacks on human property has been more prevalent in the past few years? We have various problems with all kinds of different animal parasites, none of which were a problem, say, 10 years ago.

    • I’ve noticed this. The turkeys in new england have an obvious boldness on the roads and in residential areas whereas if you encounter them in the woods they’re skittish as they should be. The animals definitely know we’ve been neutered and could care less about us when in the districts of panem.
      My best friend was even attacked by a turkey waiting for a light on his motorcycle. The new england idiots even stop up traffic as groups of gobblers saunter across the road. I aim for the f*ckers!

    • Yes, Brandonjin, wild animals are becoming more prevalent because government is introducing invasive species like wolves into wilderness areas and they spread everywhere.

  12. It sounds like Game Wardens are completely worthless. Oh, that’s right. They are government employees. No surprise there.

  13. I think if it were me I’d make sure I had a well maintained Glock 10mm or 12 gauge loaded up with hollow point slugs. Next time the bear comes to diner just go outside and kill the thing, then call the sheriff, not the game warden. As long as you shot it in the face, and emptied the weapon you could say (legitimately) that you were in fear for your life. The bear was charging and you had no way to safely retreat.

    No prosecutor would press charges and you’d be a true hero in your neighborhood. On the oft chance charges were filed, no jury in the world would convict you. You just convince them it was your life or the bears, case dismissed. A really clever lawyer could probably introduce the concept of PTSD. Equating the DHNF dead bear with Putins Russia.

    • Norma:

      Allow me to just caution that the law on wildlife conservation in your jurisdiction may or may not allow for recourse to a jury trial at all. I don’t know one way or the other for Virgina (or any other state) how penalties for off-season game violations are assessed. It might very well be an entirely “administratie” process, rather than a criminal process, meaning the ticketed “violator” (NOT “suspect,” since the presumption of innocence does not necessarily apply in administrative proceedings) would go in front of an “administrative judge” rather than a jury, should he choose to challenge a citation from a game warden. Likewise, it is quite likely that there is no “prosecutorial discretion” but rather the game wardens are empowered to levy a sentence up-front, much like a state trooper ticketing for a traffic violation. In fact, it would surprise me enormously if a district attorney were involved at all in a setting such as this.

      Again, I don’t know, but I would strongly advise consulting an attorney before shooting a bear in reliance on “due process”. NEVER, ever rely on “due process” to protect you.

      • FP, I learned a little about jury trials vs administrative proceedings during my time in the divorce rape courts decades ago. Since then I’ve tried to order my affairs so I control my stuff while owning none of it.

        I agree with Eric about game wardens being just another form of jackboot. The ones I’ve encountered are insufferable pricks. We had a huge majestic buck, hit by a car on the road, it rolled down the hill into our cypress grove and died. I would have silently made use of it except we were out of town. When we discovered it 3-4 days after its demise it was oozing munge. I called the county public works to remove it, they called the game warden. When he arrived, he was suspicious and tried to question us. I told him he could take the deer with him now, or I would shovel the parts back up onto the road. He was a little guy, and my wife told me later when he stepped to me he threw his shoulders back and stood up straight as he could. Seems many hut hutters have deep seated short man issues.

        As for consulting a lawyer I probably need to find one to put on speed dial. I am of the belief that the castle doctrine applies to the entirety of me and my property, for right or wrong. If I’m forced to stand my ground, I’ll fight for that one til the end. Fortunately I have no bears in my AO.

  14. ‘Animals are nature. The state claims to own nature.’ — Dan

    Seems like a contradiction of the ‘natural rights’ theory underlying the ‘constitution.’

    From a paper titled ‘Unlawful Hunting in England, 1500-1640’:

    ‘The Game Laws rested upon two dubious assumptions. The first assumption was that hunting could and ought to be restricted to a privileged few.

    ‘The second was that deer and hare, which the English common law regarded as ferae naturae [wild animals], could be stolen.

    ‘This legal absurdity was so apparent that only the circumstances in which a deer or hare was taken could be made a crime, not the act itself.’

    Some of our political elites still like to hunt, often ineptly, as when Dick Cheney shot attorney Harry Whittington with a 28-gauge whilst hunting quail.

    But despite the royal privilege to hunt at personal whim having disappeared in a country without titles of nobility, the doctrine of the state owning the wildlife soldiers on — another poisoned legacy, along with property taxes, from our former colonial masters.

    What a hoot it would be to set loose a bear in the Capitol: Jan 6th all over again, courtesy of a creature with no ability to understand ‘trespassing,’ ‘rioting,’ or ‘sedition.’

  15. What you write is an interesting conundrum that I’ve never been able to make sense out of.
    Animals are nature. The state claims to own nature. This allows them to tell you how you are permitted to interact with nature. Also allows them to violate your rights in the regulation of nature.

    None of it makes sense. What happens when nature crosses borders? Does state 1 cease to own it?

    Air is nature. There is air in your home. Does this allow the state to enter your home to check on the air? If not, why can they do it for an animal?

    If it were me, I know how I would deal with this issue, but that might not be the answer for everyone. Maybe Eric should be come a hunter and get ready for bear season.

  16. Wow. The picture of the bear standing at the chicken coop was worth a thousand words. That bear looked huge and the birds inside never stood a chance. I hadn’t considered bears attacking the coops. This changes everything. How the heck do you protect your chickens from these determined and destructive beasts I wonder. Up in the Sierras we have bears of course but not down in the flats. A friend of mine who lived up in Truckee always is careful to make sure every single door and window is closed at night or when we leave at her cabin there. Truckee mandated bear boxes for garbage and you don’t go out to empty the garbage at night. We have seen bears walk right up on the deck during the afternoon and they are so quiet!

    • Hi RS,

      I’m running hot wire around the perimeter today… once I get done with my work here! I already installed a motion-sensitive spotlight. That plus the shock ought to do the trick, if he comes back. He may not, though. For various reasons…

      • Hi Eric,
        We don’t have bears that I know of (yet), but we do use an electric fence to keep raccoons out of our sweet corn. Without it they will destroy the entire crop in one night – usually the night before we’re planning to harvest it.
        I used to make a fence of several strands of wire, but they could still sometimes get through it. Then I started using 2-foot-wide chicken wire, and we haven’t had any incursions since. I attach it to T-posts with three clevis-type plastic insulators on each post. Relatively quick and easy to put up and take down.
        You’re going to want a powerful controller. The one I use is from the last century, and it was made to power many miles of fence. Some of the newer ones aren’t worth a crap. When I test mine by holding a screwdriver against the post and near the wire, the arc will jump about half an inch with a resounding snap. Nothing’s going to mess with that.
        There is a guy in the Kansas City area who is an expert on these things. His business is called Fencer Fixer Repair (fencerfixer.com). He can fix just about any controller that was ever made, and is a great source of advice.
        You’ll want to make sure your controller is the pulse type, which can deliver a wallop without killing. Anything that puts out a continuous charge will likely kill a lot of small animals like squirrels.
        Good luck!

      • On a chicken blog, or some such, I read that nails driven through a board and set up in key stepping spots & leaning-into spots works so the bear never wants to return.
        Harsh, for sure, but I imagine that’s a plan if electric wire don’t work.

        Besides the obvious as to who really owns The Land, your article caused me to think about all the encounters I’ve had with game wardens, & cops acting like game wardens.

        The last time I went fishing I had a cop basically jump out of the bushes and interrogate me, asking what I was fishing for, did I catch any, show me your papers, etc… suddenly it was obvious, he was the one that was fishing.
        The episode left such a sour taste with me I haven’t been fishing since. Those guys, cops & game wardens, sure do know how to ruin a day outside.

        Is there any other sport besides hunting & fishing where if you ‘score too many points’ or make an error you get a fine & face jail time & confiscation of your equipment?

        The last time I talked to a game warden he walked through some slop & mud in his nice spiffy shoes to get to where I was, when he deduced he couldn’t give me a ticket he began to walk back through the slop & mud. I offered to give him a ride back. I always thought it odd that he declined.

        I just sat there in my pickup & watched him slog back. It was somehow… satisfying.

  17. Once upon a time, AGWs of the fish and game variety were charged with removing such animals that were destroying property, and posed a risk to people. Taking them elsewhere, or disposing of them. Apparently that digs to deeply into their “budget”, as in graft and corruption. If one has no livestock, because the bear ate it all, but is used to coming to your place to eat, where do you suppose the next nearest supply of bear food is? Your kitchen of course. I suppose one is prohibited from disposing of the bear threat until it is actually in your house, if then. Much like invaders of the two legged variety are “protected”. I was once told by a sheriff, not a deputy, that if I had to shoot someone trying to kick down my door, to drag the body in the house. The same sheriff who encouraged me to get a concealed carry permit, before Missouri had Constitutional carry. While I would love to see a vigorous bear population, a ready supply of good meat in large quantity, I do not expect other property owners to submit to property damage, and personal risk, to get one. Although it would dispose of a lot of arrogance and hubris if one had to make sure they were adequately armed before going outside, especially at night. Ruger Redhawk and S&W 29 sales would go way up.

    • John Kable – A fed bear is a dead bear, at least that’s what Colorado fish and game tells us. They usually give the bear two strikes if they’re just into the garbage bins (and a warning to the property owner). But if they start getting destructive they’re tranqulized and moved. If they come back, they’re put down.

      Amazing to believe but the limousine liberals in the ski towns are OK with getting bears out of their backyards. Bear shit hurts the reasale value I guess…


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