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Burglar bear beats a retreat after invading Hume home

Tuesday, Jun. 17 | By Julie Taylor
Imagine sleeping soundly in your warm bed when a scuffling sound emerges from another room.

Scott Poole thought his home, off Keyser Road in Hume, was being invaded by criminals. As it turned out, the intruder was a black bear, not a burglar.

Poole heard his unwanted, ursine guest on Sunday around 4:45 a.m.

"I was sound asleep and I heard noises out in the kitchen," said Poole. "I thought somebody had broken in."

Poole's instinct was to defend his territory from what he believed to be a burglar.

"I got my pistol out and went out in the living room/kitchen area," said Poole. "A bear was standing there going through the trash."

A mid-sized black bear was placidly examining the contents of his lidded can.

"I was totally shocked. Not was I was expecting," said Poole.

He nervously shouted at the animal, who looked just as frightened as Poole.

"I wasn't going to shoot unless he threatened me," he said. "I'm pretty sure he was more scared of me than I was of him.

"I hollered at him," he said.

The bear turned toward Poole, who was incidentally blocking its escape route - an open window.

"He had walked toward me to get back out the way he came in," he said.

Poole stepped back, and the furry beast calmly walked over to the window. Once there, he paused to look back at Poole, who in turn shouted for him to leave. The bear obeyed.

He said the only damage was the window screen, which the bear destroyed upon entry.

"He came up on the front porch, tore the screen out and came on in," he said.

Though Poole and his neighbor frequently spot bears in their rural area, he couldn't figure out why the bear had chosen to come into his home.

His trash can was only about a quarter full of trash, and he said he hadn't cooked dinner that night, so there were no lingering smells.

Poole said he later alerted his neighbor, and planned to call animal control.

So what should you do if you see a bear? The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VGDIF) instructs:

• Enjoy and keep a respectful distance! In most cases, the bear will move on quickly.

• If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space. Do not approach, and bring your pets inside to provide the bear a clear path to leave your property.
What should you do if a bear is consuming bird seed, garbage, pet food, etc., on my property?

• The best way to encourage the bear not to return is to remove the food source.

• Do not store household trash, or anything that smells like food, in vehicles, on porches or decks.

• Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement.

• Take your garbage to the dump frequently.

• If you have a trash collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before.

• Take down your bird feeder for 3-4 weeks after the bear visits.

• Consider installing electric fencing, an inexpensive and extremely efficient proven deterrent to bears, around dumpsters, gardens, beehives, or other potential food sources.

• If addressed quickly, this situation can be resolved almost immediately after you remove the food source. Sometimes, the bear may return searching for food, but after a few failed attempts to find food, it will leave your property.

What should you do if you see a bear cub on my property?

• Do not try to remove it from the area or "save it". When sensing danger, female bears will typically send her cubs up a tree and leave the area. In such cases, the female will almost always return to gather up the cubs when no people or pets are around.

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