My uncle's dogs, who have been with me for the last 10 days or so, had been restless all night. Finally at 6 AM I gave in and let them out to the porch, where the take the dog-door into the large dog pen. Tumbleweed, the youngest, was more enthusiastic than usual - and I quickly saw why. There, running across the yard was a large black bear.
I was relieved I'd only let the dogs into the pen and not the open yard. But then they didn't shut up. They kept barking. I headed outside and saw that the bear wasn't in any hurry to leave the yard.
And now, four hours later, it's still not in a hurry to leave the yard.
[update: I realized out a few minutes ago that it's not a "he," it's a "she" and she must've been just biding her time with her two little cubs up a tree somewhere. I don't think it's the same sow as from the "Bear Necessities" post - I'm pretty sure that one had two front legs...I think. It is, however, the same bear that was raiding my parents' birdfeeder last summer. Anyway, you can mentally fix pronouns as you go from here]
He's hunkered down underneath some big red pines, about 50 yards from the house. I've wandered out several times, only to have him look at me, and roll over and go back to sleep. At one point I thought he might be dead. I walked across the yard to the corner of the old barn - easily within 50 feet of the bear - and he just looked at me. Then, when I got to the corner of the barn, he finally stood up and did a display of aggression by attacking the tree next to him. I backed off.
That's also when I figured out that this bear is the three-legged bear that visited my parents' bird feeder last summer.
After that, Dad drove in, the dogs have barked, and I backed my car out. He's moved all of 20 feet. Not really normal for a bear.
So I called the Wildlife Service. They're sending the trappers out. Apparently they already have a bear trap set just a mile or so down the road for a nuisance bear. I think I've caught him.
Updates to come soon - the trappers are still a couple hours away on another job before getting here. The bear doesn't seem to mind. Honestly, he looks so comfortable I'd be tempted to go curl up next to him in the sun and shade.
We'll see what happens next.
Update 2: So, the bear and her cubs have wandered off down by our pond. The Wildlife Service is sending the bear trappers, but they're on the other side of the county. And I am spending an unscheduled day working from home. This is what makes life with wildlife interesting!
Final (?) Update: Well, the guys from the Wildlife Service showed up with live bear trap in tow. Unfortunately they were about 20 minutes too late and Mama had taken her cubs off to the south. I filled them in on details, and they headed down the road to where a neighbor with a chicken coop had reported a bear break-in the night before. I sort of enjoy the novelty of bear and cubs in the neighborhood, especially of the sow is going to be so chill about things that I could get within a few yards of her before she got at all upset. Seems like the right kind of bear to have, if you're going to have one at all.
That said, as I was updating my own bear story, a friend from across town was riding her bike home and literally almost ran over the rear end of yet another bear. They all seem to be out and about right now. Maybe today is the day of the teddy bear picnic?
...geese, chickens, turkeys, omby and water buffalo...but this is certainly something I never had to deal with in the third world...
One final update: Late in the afternoon I loaded my uncle's dogs into the car to return them to whence they came. I left them briefly unattended while I returned to the house for something. They jumped, snarling and barking, out of the back of the car and chased off into the woods. I yelled and screamed and go them to come back. I locked them safely in the car and went and grabbed binoculars. Sure enough, the two of them had treed a bear. I watched it make its way back to the ground - this one had all four legs intact, and judging from the size, was probably a yearling or a two-year-old. That makes four bears within a baseball toss of my house all in broad daylight in one day. That's a personal record.