BEMIDJI — A Bemidji woman received an unexpected lunchtime visitor last Sunday when a fully grown black bear came within eight feet of her kitchen window.
Louise Witt, 79, captured photos of the bear as it attempted to extract its afternoon meal from her backyard bird feeder. Witt’s 12-year-old great-granddaughter, Sydnie James, also snapped a few pictures on her iPad.
James, who lives in Oregon and was visiting Witt at the time, was the first to spot the animal. She said she wasn’t afraid of the bear itself, though she had never seen one up close before.
“I wanted to actually go outside and give it a hug, it just looked so fluffy and cuddly,” James said. “But I was smart enough not to.”
Witt said the bear sighting thrilled both her and her great-granddaughter.
“This is … probably the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in her life,” Witt said. “It was a delight.”
Witt and James chose not to call the Department of Natural Resources, and to let the bear go about its business. According to the Minnesota DNR website, bears will take advantage of any available food, and when they find an consistent food source they will return to the location regularly. The DNR website says the best way to avoid bear problems is to to not attract the animals in the first place.
The animals tend to be wary of people, and will usually leave when encountered. The website recommends people should avoid feeding bears, and said the animals can usually be scared away.
Witt said the bear appeared to be dancing as it investigated the bird feeder, and she and her great-granddaughter decided to join in — from the safety of the kitchen.
“After the bear jumped down and ran off … my granddaughter grabbed me around the neck and we danced, and danced and danced,” she said. “It’s very, very funny, the whole thing, we could just join in with him.”