Tag Archives: bears





I’ve added a third part to the YEAR OF THE BEAR for the nearby mountain town of Three Rivers currently inundated with bears. A good many of these bears are habituated Park bears, adept at breaking into cars for a bag of potato chips—mommy vans with sliders are the vehicle of choice. Breaking into a house is much easier. The bear population in California has more than doubled since 1982.

Believe it or not, some residents have been feeding the bears and are vocally indignant and dismayed that some bears have been destroyed. Without thinking, Three Rivers has all the ingredients for a tragedy.


Ursus arctos
own the moonlit mountain town
on Halloween,
rummage door to door,
wait on the porch for more
of anything to eat.
Trick or treat.







Don’t care,
go anywhere,
eat anything—leave little

evidence behind, but
barefoot tracks,
whole berries in black scat.


Drought and fire,
slim pickin’s high,
bears lumber off the mountain,

hundreds in canyons
trying to make a living
on damn few acorns—

grubbing for bugs,
trashing trash cans
taking pets and an occasional calf.

Shaggy invaders
from the past
like science fiction.


Ursus arctos
own the moonlit mountain town
on Halloween,
rummage door to door,
wait on the porch for more
of anything to eat.
Trick or treat.




December 2014

December 2014


Skeletons and broken limbs, old friends
of two or three centuries passing seasons
in one another’s shade, listening

to fathers telling sons how to survive.
Clumps of brown and yellow mistletoe
hang from arms like grapes becoming raisins,

all giving-in and giving-up their ghosts,
their loosening bark in lieu of acorns
to this bear invasion as the canyons

and draws crawl with shaggy scavengers
after the war is over—as the slowly fading
wounded watch, brittle roots without water.

This old girl will never be the same,
not reclaim her lush good looks
for generations that will never know

the difference nor her endless bounty.
Nothing stays the same beyond the void
of emptiness—everlasting, ever changing.


October 14, 2015 - Greasy, Horse Lot

October 14, 2015 – Greasy, Horse Lot






While calving, our cows are well aware of the recent influx of bears, displaced in part by the 150,000 acre Rough Fire in Kings Canyon, but primarily due to the drought and the lack of anything to eat at the higher elevations. Furthermore, there’s not much here to eat either, as only one in three or four hundred oak trees has any acorns and the percentage of oak trees that have died because of the lack of rainfall the past four years continues to increase and probably approaches 40% now. The remainder have lost most of their leaves, but there’s bear sign everywhere we go.

On Monday on my way to pump water at the Paregien Ranch, I found the mothers of these two calves high in Ridenhour Canyon, taking turns going to water while the other babysat. Though I didn’t see the calves on the way up, I knew the cows had been sucked. When I came down a few hours later, I found the cows and calves had moved to the top of a ridge. Both were well hidden and only a day or so old.

Most cows sort themselves before calving, as the ones close to calving begin running together apart from the bunch as they prepare their nurseries ahead of time. We’ve lost calves to bears in the past, but usually those of first-calf mothers. Older cows, or cows together, can bluff most bears, but with so little to eat in the middle of calving there are no guarantees. Bears will eat anything, and older bears unable to rummage for food begin to acquire a taste for veal.

Yesterday, on my way up to work on a trough, I found the same two cows together higher yet in the pasture, making their steep round trip to water to close to a mile. Once again, I didn’t see the two calves until I came off the mountain.






Dear Dad, you never saw a drought like this,
four years running, so few cows left on the ranch—
nor I a war like yours: bait for Nazis in the Bulge.

The world has changed, the planet ever-changing:
ice caps melt, oceans rise, seasons out-of-sync
with what we know. New ground to graze

now that I am old. Nothing in the mountains
for bears to eat, they roll down ridges, track
dusty roads on the scent of fresh placentas,

lion pads everywhere you go. We cannot leave
this canyon, these calves, alone—all living
off this piece of ground that we are so bound.