Courtney Williams, 33, of Bangor was headed to a late morning dentist appointment on June 10 when she was delayed by a hungry black bear.
“I was dropping off my 7-week-old daughter [at my parents' house in Hermon] so my mother could watch her while I went to the dentist just up the road,” wrote Williams in an email. “I was just getting my daughter settled in the living room when I looked up and saw the bear up on the railing!”
“I had to call Hermon Family Dental and tell them that I would be a little late because I couldn’t go outside. Thankfully they were very understanding!”
On the back deck, the large black bear leaned over the railing and snatched the suet feeder, which the family had dangled from a pole for local woodpeckers. Lying on the porch, the bear ripped the wire cage and ate the suet cake — a soft bird food of corn meal, nuts, seeds, insects or fruit mixed in fat.
This isn’t the first time black bears have visited the Hermon home at the bottom of Miller Hill.
I’ve had it happen the least four years,” said Williams’ father Tony Reynolds, 58, who has lived in the house since 1977. “But the bear would always come at night. Now he’s coming during the day.”
Watching out their window, the Reynolds think it has been the same bear all four years. It always shows up alone — without cubs — so they suspect it’s a male, and they’ve nicknamed it the “Miller Hill Bandit.”
“He’s getting pretty friendly,” Reynolds said.
The Miller Hill Bandit is known for trashing bird feeders throughout the neighborhood, Reynolds said.
Reynolds has pondered on why the black bear is now visiting during the day, and he thinks that the animal may have figured out that people are bringing in their bird feeders at night. Either that or it’s getting more comfortable with people.
“Just don’t walk around the corner unless you’re paying attention,” he warns people in the area.
Black bears are most likely to visit residential areas with the purpose of finding food during the spring, when they’re hungry after a long winter of hibernation and their natural foods (such as berries and beech nuts) have yet to ripen.
To keep black bears away from your home during this time, the Maine Department of Inland and Fisheries suggests stowing away all eatable items – including bird feeders and trash — at least during the spring.
The Miller Hill Bandit isn’t the only black bear visiting Hermon homes, Reynolds said. This spring, a mother and cub are visiting bird feeders on Blackstream Road.
“Someone fired a gun into the ground to scare them off, and the mother started snapping her jaws, making noise back at them,” Reynolds said.
Yet, Reynolds heard that the town’s bear population shrunk last week when a bear was struck by a vehicle on Route 2, and another bear was shot after breaking into a livestock enclosure in Hermon.
“There still seems to be an awful lot of bears out here,” said Reynolds, who isn’t bothered by the Miller Hill Bandit’s frequent visits.
“He just tears the feeders to pieces, and I just bandage them up and put them back up,” Reynolds said. “We always look before we go outside.”
Eager to get to her dentist appointment, Williams decided to dash out the front door while the “bandit” was preoccupied on the back deck. Fortunately, the bear remained in the back yard — “just long enough to wreck two bird feeders and eat all the suet.”