A bear comes visiting in backyard

Bird feeder doesn’t escape encounter unscathed

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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It could have been the aroma of a barbecue, but this much is known: a hungry black bear wandered into Todd Hemphill’s Fisher’s Landing neighborhood Sunday evening.

“The first thing we noticed was the cat freaked out,” said Hemphill, who lives at 4100 S.E. 178th Court in a gated community of townhouses called The Lakes with his wife, Leslie McMillan.

“Leslie said, ‘Honey, there’s a bear in our backyard,’” Hemphill said.

“He was after was my bird feeder. He just kind of bent that over,” Hemphill said of the glass feeder on a 5-foot wrought-iron pole that sits just 12 feet from the back door of their home. “He was just munching away on the bird feeder.”

The bear was first spotted about 7 p.m.

“A neighbor was barbecuing at the time, so I ran out the front and knocked on the door, and let them know that was a bear out back. They went in and closed their door.

“He was a full-sized black bear, 250 to 300 pounds. I’ve seen a few in my time. He was the real deal,” Hemphill said. “He didn’t look a like a young bear. He had a couple of seasons on him, it looked like to me.

“Once I got the door closed, I wasn’t worried.”

“The neighbor said when he went out to take a picture, he (the bear) gave him a little snort,” Hemphill added.

After feeding on the bird seed, the bear wandered into a heavily forested ravine to the west.

“We’ve seen birds and rabbits, but we’d never seen a bear, until today,” Hemphill said.

Bear duty is old hat for Vancouver police Sgt. Steve Dobbs, who responded to the neighborhood with Officer Jim White. Dobbs said he was on duty several years ago when a cub had to be tranquilized near Mountain View High School.

Hemphill said at 8:15 p.m. Sunday, “The cat (Sydney) is still under the bed; she’s no help.

“That was our exciting evening. I’ve taken in the bird feeder.”