Thunder Bay

Black bear balances on deck railing in search of meal

A black bear with a strong sense of balance didn't let anything get between it and the sweet contents of a Thunder Bay, Ont., hummingbird feeder this week.

Camera captures feat of agility in Thunder Bay as bear gets at hummingbird feeder

A bear climbs on the railing of Thunder Bay resident Janice Whybourne's deck. The bear was captured on a trail cam as it helped itself to the contents of a hummingbird feeder. (Janice Whybourne)

A black bear with a strong sense of balance didn't let anything get between it and the sweet contents of a Thunder Bay, Ont., hummingbird feeder this week.

Images of the hungry bear's feat of agility were captured by a camera trained on the deck of Janice Whybourne's house.

They show the bear balancing on all fours on the railing, stretching its neck to get at the feeder. And it all happened a few metres from the home's rear door while Whybourne and her husband were inside.

'We didn't hear a thing'

"We didn't hear a thing," Whybourne said.

Whybourne knew there were plenty of wild animals including at least one bear roaming near her home, which is located in the area of 25th Side Road. She bought her husband a trail cam to see what's out there first-hand.
Janice Whybourne and her husband were inside their home at the time. (Janice Whybourne)

"When we moved ... just outside of the city proper, we were having neighbours telling us 'Oh, we saw lynx, we saw a bear,' different wild creatures," she said. "We were picking up this raccoon a couple of times. And I have a hummingbird feeder out that's just right off the deck. We have it on a long arm, so it's far out, out of reach for creatures, and it was getting destroyed at night."

Thinking a rascally raccoon was the culprit, the Whybournes moved the trail cam to catch it in the act.

But when the pair checked the camera, "We were shocked to see that it was a bear, up on the deck, so close to the back door."

Whybourne said the deck is only about 13 square metres.

"Where he was located on the deck, if I had gone out the kitchen door or my husband had gone out the kitchen door, you wouldn't see him until he was cornered," Whybourne said. "That's the scary part."

Trust the cat

The bear didn't cause any serious damage to the deck. It did scratch up the wood a bit and leave a muddy mess, however.

Whybourne said the hummingbird feeder has been taken down. She already takes other steps to make her home less attractive to bears, such as making sure garbage isn't left out and avoiding composting.

She said she isn't concerned about the area's wildlife.

"I'm into photography, and I am always in our property, into the bush area taking pictures," Whybourne said. "I've never been worried about running into him. I think you have to have a healthy understanding of the bears, but no, it doesn't change anything for me."

She's also learned to trust her cat's instincts.

"What we've noticed is his behaviour changes when that bear's around," Whybourne said. "When he's a nervous wreck, we know something's upset him in the neighbourhood. And that night that the bear was there he was skittish. So we kinda put two and two together that it's probably the bear freaking him out."

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