Damage to bird feeder may be from bear

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

By Scott Jenkins
SALISBURY — Let’s get this straight: Ruth Meade is not saying a bear stole her bird feeder.
But it sure as heck wasn’t a bird.
And with bear sightings from one end of Salisbury to the other end of East Spencer this week, Meade very well could have had a hairy and hungry breakfast guest at her home on Lily Avenue off West Innes Street, which is just about in the middle.
The odyssey started around 8 p.m. Monday, when someone called Salisbury Police after spotting a 6-foot-tall black bear off Woodleaf Road at Salisbury’s northwestern edge. The bear was foraging in a trash bin at Holly Leaf Apartments.
The bear moved on from there and apparently turned up Tuesday in Spencer. Residents reported seeing a bear on West 16th Street around 11:30 a.m. The bear lumbered around the area for 30 minutes or so before slipping off into woods at the end of West 17th Street.
By Tuesday night, the bear had made it to East Spencer, where it spent time sitting in one tree and then another watching the people watching it. When it came down from the second tree, police and firefighters tried to steer the bear toward the Yadkin River.
That seemed to suit the bear. East Spencer Police Chief Floyd Baldo said officers followed the animal east on Hall Street and watched it enter the woods along Interstate 85 around midnight, where it turned north toward the Yadkin.
“That’s the last time he was seen, and he hasn’t been spotted since,” Baldo said Wednesday.
A Rowan County telecommunications operator said around midday Wednesday the 911 center hadn’t gotten any more calls about the bear. But it left its mark on Rowan, and possibly a lot of marks on one of Meade’s bird feeders.
When she went to bed Monday night, everything was as it should be in Meade’s pristine Lily Avenue yard. When she got up Tuesday morning and went outside around 8, something most definitely was not as she had left it.
In a her backyard, Meade keeps bird feeders hanging on long metal poles. One of the poles had been bent over, and it still was. The bird feeder that hung on the pole was gone.
Meade called police. She said an officer told her kids had probably done it and she might find the bird feeder tossed in the woods near her house. She did find it, but when she brought the bird feeder back to her house, Meade started to doubt that kids had taken it.
Practically all the bird food was gone and she showed the feeder to a neighbor who said, “ ‘Well look, there’s bite marks on here or something.’ And sure enough, there are.”
About 20 small indentations cover the plastic cylinder that holds food for birds. And although Meade says “squirrels are trying all the time to get into those things,” she doesn’t think a squirrel’s teeth made them, nor that any normal squirrel could bend that pole and make off with the feeder.
Meade’s not sure it was a bear — she heard nothing in the backyard Monday night into Tuesday morning — but she has suspicions. She lives near Catawba College’s 190-acre ecological preserve, an attractive escape route for a bear on the run. Still, it would be a first.
“Deer are quite frequent, but a bear? That we haven’t seen,” Meade said.
Not that she’s complaining about missing out on this one. If it was a bear that stopped by her house looking for a meal, she’s happy it didn’t expect hospitality, too.
“I’m glad I was asleep in the bed.”
Contact Scott Jenkins at 704-797-4248.