In 15 years of living here, this is the Biggest. Bear. We've. Ever. Seen. You know how when you look at a picture of a gorilla, the thing that makes him look soooo strong is his shoulders? Well, this bruiser has shoulders like that. He is HUGE! Male black bears can get to be as big as 500 pounds. This guy has to be in that neighborhood.
And, for contrast, female black bears run between 90 and 400 pounds. "Our little bear" is definitely down closer to 90 pounds. She's so small that at first we thought she was a yearling. But it's the third year seeing her, and she's still tiny. For a bear. She'd make a darn good-sized dog, though!
You can read a little more about our little bear here if you're curious. Follow the links backward from that article to get the full history with her.
Some of you left comments about being afraid of our little bear, and I totally understand that. But having lived in the woods and among bears for some 15 years now, and having interacted with this bear from a distance for a few years, I know that she, like most bears, wants to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them. Each bear is different, and if you observe them for a while you begin to figure out their temperament somewhat. So I respect our little bear for what she would be capable of if cornered, but I know that as long as I exercise some common sense we'll never get into the situation where she would hurt me.
I'm not so sure about this guy.
He's way too comfortable around people. He came up onto our deck at night, as you can see, to empty our can of bird seeds (foolish me for leaving it outside; never again!). Then, once he was done, he came over to the back door, where the Huz was standing and I was kneeling trying every setting on my camera to get a decent shot of him. He wasn't interested in us; he was sniffing around for more bear chow. (Can you imagine how much he has to eat, to power a body that size?) At one point, I was lying on my stomach shooting through the bottom window as he was literally sniffing the window. The flash went off right in his eyes. He just paused for one second and continued his food hunt.
The picture didn't turn out. He was too close.
I'm going to be verrry cautious for a while, knowing that this bear is in the neighborhood. Fortunately, he seems to be a nighttime bear. He's been back three nights in a row, always pretty late. We may never see him during the day, but I'll be cautious before stepping out the back door this summer.