Actually, we live on Kodiak, which runs off Aleutian and is next to Klondike, just south of Grizzly Dr, It wasn’t until this morning that we learned that Bear Alley intersects with Kodiak, running below our deck. My first clue was a tall white kitchen garbage bag that had been dismembered there. This was so shocking that I didn’t even take a picture. So against the mountain code! Not quite as bad as actually feeding a bear –a fed bear is a dead bear. (Once a bear has been tamed in that way, habituated to human contact, the rangers have to shoot it.) Leaving garbage accessible is the second most egregious crime.
There are bear safes for garbage costing a thousand or more, so armoured that bears can’t tear into them, the way they can cars. They have destroyed cars for something as small as a burger wrapper or corn-based kitty litter. The people I know up here use trash compactors or sort the smelly stuff and freeze it. Even recycling material is washed and kept in a locked shed. In short, the trash stays inside until it goes to the transfer site. There it gets shut up in a dumpster with a roof and a door. During bear season the site is open late on Thursdays.
Clara and I picked up the garbage. It consisted of a lot of avocado and other fruit shells, a sodden egg box, various boxes -these people didn’t recycle either- and I don’t know what else. I was too disgusted. Clara grabbed her car keys and took the re-bagged trash to the transfer site.
In the old days in Canadian cottage country, people used to drive to the dump and watch the bears feed at dusk. Now all the dumps there are fenced like POW camps. No bear- watching.
I heard voices across the road and left my breakfast to go over to talk. That’s when I learned about Bear Alley.
The woman who lives there said she had been raking her yard, that is the dirt in her yard- no grass grows here at 7 p.m. when a bear sauntered down the alley. She fled to the other side of the house. In the process, a $20 bill fell out of her pocket and is nowhere to be found. (Clara says, “Bears have to shop too.”)
Her visitor, a realtor, said she had seen a bear at 5 p.m. and that air horns were going off all evening. I had come home on the golf cart at 5:45. I think I did hear some of those blasts, but their significance eluded me. Then Clara turned on Jeopardy and in deference to her hearing problems, I took refuge in my iPod.
The realtor said she lived here eight years and never saw a bear, but this year she has seen ten. This is because of the drought. The berries haven’t ripened as a result, so the bears are hungry. They come down to drink at the ponds on the golf course and to forage. They even turn up in groups of five in backyards.
They move very quietly. Another realtor -half the people here seem to be in that business- tells the story of folding laundry in her bedroom while her husband watched a game. She finished and walked back into the kitchen to be greeted by a 300 lb. bear quietly searching for food. She screamed and ran out the front door, leaving it open. Her husband was trapped. The bear was between him and the door. His wife was screaming bloody murder and running to the neighbours. He remembered his gun. The bear ambled out the door. He ran after firing a shot in the air. The bear just kept ambling on, totally oblivious.
Clara and I reconsider the windows we have open in the evening. Several are accessible from the deck and a small bear could get in my bedroom window. Fortunately, cooking gets done at the house in the pines, where they are extra careful about accessible windows.
We are all going to get air horns.
I feel as if I am back on Hereford Hill in Quebec where a pie cooling for supper could win you a smashed-in window or even a door and air horns were all the rage. But never handy when you needed one.