Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bears (and other predators) in the Backyard

Last week in British Columbia, The Daily News reported a bear broke into a backyard rabbit hutch and grabbed a family pet of nearly ten years.  The bunny had just been moved from its “winter home to an outdoor summer hutch.” Authorities think the bear was attracted by easy prey. Now the neighborhood is worried he will become a “problem bear” and it could end badly for the bruin, too. The story brings to mind an incident a little over a year ago when a black bear snatched a disabled pet rabbit from an Anchorage backyard and the owner actually gave chase.  The rabbit victims did not survive either one of these attacks.  Can’t happen in the lower 48?  Sure it can and it does.  A couple of years ago in Denville, NJ a 400 lb. black bear broke into screened in porch and killed a beloved bunny named Blackie.  The fact is many people live in much closer proximity to predators than they realize especially in suburban areas.  Raccoons, foxes, coyotes, feral dogs and cats, and birds of prey have all made themselves at home in cities. Some predators are perfectly capable of digging under a sturdy fence to get into a yard and others are large enough to tip over a hutch and tear through the wire or wood structure. The only way I know to have a peaceful co-existence with all the rabbit hutch prowlers is to keep my rabbits in the house and supervise time outdoors. Canadians and Alaskans aren’t the only ones with bears in the backyard.