Black bear destroys hives

Thursday, June 14, 2007
Bee hives seem to be what attracted a black bear to the Dogwood Hills subdivision south of Cassville last Thursday night. Three hives located just 50 yards from the home of Bill and Donna Gracy were almost completely destroy-ed, and the suspect is thought to be a black bear that an elderly neighbor spotted outside her window earlier in the evening on June 7.

Donna said she discovered the initial damage on Thursday night. She found two of her family's three bee hives strewn all along the hillside near her home.

Later on in the night, it appears as if the bear returned. According to Donna, the bear came back and drug one of the already damaged hives down the hill and ate all the honey in it. After that, the bear proceeded to the Gracy home and pulled down a finch feeder, which was hanging from a metal hanger on a tree next to the deck.

On Friday, Barry County Conservation Agent Jason Midyett came to the home to survey the damage and take photographs. He recommended that an electric fence be installed around the perimeter of what was left of the hives.

Midyett told the Gracys that he believed the bear was a young male searching for food and looking to establish its own territory. According to Midyett, bears are now out of hibernation and mothers are forcing the older young out of the den.

The Gracys' son, Joseph, and his friend, Chris Landstad, erected an electric fence around the hives on Friday. Midyett said one shock from the fence should send the bear away for good.

"I just hope the bear keeps on moving after its first encounter with the electric fence," said Donna. "We are still concerned about the bear since it seems to have no fear of coming right up to our homes here in Dogwood Hills,"

The Gracys have been raising bees in hives since their two sons were youngsters. Sarge Carney got the family started in their beekeeping hobby about 10 years ago.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri's black bear population remains nearly invisible for most of the year. Bears are naturally fearful of humans and usually forage for natural food in fields and forests.

If bear sightings occur in Missouri, they are typically reported in June. After hibernating all winter, bears emerge hungry and looking for food. Bears are sometimes lured to outbuildings and back porches where they often scavenger through trash cans, bird feeders and pet food bowls.

According to conservation officials, bears are primarily a threat to property. Those that become nuisances can usually be scared away. Occasionally a bear might have to be trapped and relocated.

To eliminate the threat of bears, residents can get rid of unsecured food. This can be done by following the advice listed below.

• Put away bird feeders and discontinue bird feeding until midsummer.

• Feed dogs and cats indoors.

• Store livestock feed in airtight containers in locked storage areas.

• Put garbage out the morning of collection. Double-bag refuse and add a dash of ammonia to each bag

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