Things That Go BUMP in the Night
I heard loud noises and things going BUMP! in the middle of one very dark and stormy night.
My first thought was a bear, living as I do at the higher elevations in the Smokies, but the 'rhythmic clunking' I heard sounded awfully c-l-o-s-e, like maybe even right below my bedroom window. Cat Kidder who had been asleep on my bed jumped to the bay window seat to have a look, too; his tail in alert mode and fluffy, with back arched.
Was it someone trying to push their way into the garage door below my bay window? We are out in the middle of nowhere, you know. The garage is equipped with three huge motorized Overhead brand garage doors that appear impenetrable from the outside, although I guess where there is a will there is a way? My imagination at that midnight hour was definitely kicking into overdrive.
With flashlight in hand I rushed to turn on the six exterior floodlights that lit up the entire garage apron and retaining wall where the noise appeared to be coming from.
Things immediately became quiet...sh-hhhhh...I listened some more...
Then a few minutes later while I was still standing in stealth mode in the dark livingroom I heard dogs spontaneously barking farther on down the mountain. The lights must have done the trick, whatever it was, I thought to myself as I crawled back into bed.
Sure enough, it was a bear!
When I looked out my bay window at dawn that next morning I saw that our huge, heavy, bear-proof trash can was knocked over on its side, although it was still intact and padlocked to the tree. The purpose of the cable is to keep the can from being rolled down the mountainside as a bear struggles to get into it.
I learned from experience to secure the can in this way, as some elderly neighbors didn't do that; and they routinely had to retrieve their can and messy kitchen garbage from impossible to reach places at great length from their house. Not only that, but their cans were made of cheap flexible plastic that any bear worth its salt could easily crush.
In case you are wondering, this is the company promo for the 96-gallon bear-proof trash can we use at our house:
It definitely works! It is a wheeled design that uses steel reinforced angle iron, and it has a heavy-duty double-wall molded body as well as a special recessed latching mechanism on the lid that a bear paw cannot access.
That particular Black bear has been visiting our trash can almost nightly now for weeks, making very loud THUMPING sounds to announce himself as he pushes against the can with his front paws and the full weight of his body. This is clearly a learned behavior from visiting other trash cans in the region where this technique easily pops open the lid...even screwed on lids that some people just think are foolproof.
I have had to rearrange and lengthen the two padlocked cables that secure the can, and I have even had to move the can to a more distant tree so that I can sleep through this bear's late-night workouts.
Yes, the can still ends upside down and every-which-way-wonky the next morning when I head out to inspect it. And even the ground is getting a bit torn up around it. But I am happy to report that the score is still in my favor.
It has definitely prevented this and other bears from getting into the trash which is best for all concerned!
(Can you hear it now?)
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