Sunday, October 24, 2021
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Mission Creek black bear makes a house call

by CAROLYN HIDY
Lake County Leader | October 7, 2021 12:45 AM

ST. IGNATIUS — Residing along Mission Creek for 40 years, Hope Litzinger has always lived among bears. On almost any fall day, she will find one in her yard or up a tree. Several years ago, a grizzly bear attacked her donkey.

Her horses and dogs and the deer keep an eye out, but mostly act like the bears are just part of the family.

Last week, a large black bear took the family thing a little too far.

The bear climbed up a large lilac, to a small roof, to a window Hope left open to cool the house down at night. It tore the screen out and came across her dining table. Making its way to the kitchen, the bear pulled open the freezer on the bottom of the refrigerator, leaving it sprung and unable to reseal.

“I was lying in bed when I heard something in my kitchen,” Hope said. “It had to be a bear.”

She got up and went down the hall to shoo it out. As she came around the corner into the kitchen, she met eyes with a fairly large black bear. It turned and tried to leave through the closed kitchen window, leaving muddy paw prints behind.

Rethinking the situation a bit, Hope went back to bed and closed the door. She heard the bear scuffle around and it eventually made its way back across the table and out the open window. The dogs never even woke up.

“I didn’t sleep at all that night,” Hope said.

Wildlife managers from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes captured and relocated the bear.

Two nights later, Hope’s dog asked to go out. He was confused why the dog door was closed off, now that Hope was closing her house up at night. She again got out of bed and let the dog out. Much to his surprise, he came face to face with an even larger black bear at the porch entry. The bear woofed and bluffed at the dog, who must have decided his nighttime errand wasn’t all that important, as he turned around and came back inside.

“I didn’t sleep that night, either,” she said.

Hope is looking into the possibility of electric fencing.

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A large black bear climbed the lilac bush to the roof, tore out the screen, and came across the dining room table to explore the kitchen of a home on Mission Creek outside of St. Ignatius last week. (Courtesy of Irene Pritsak)

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The bear opened and damaged the freezer while on the hunt for protein.(Courtesy of Irene Pritsak)