Bellingham’s Jill Levenson admits she was a little envious of her neighbors.
While an adolescent bruin, which has been nicknamed Barkley Bear or Walter, raided bird feeders across northeast Bellingham neighborhoods for most of June and early July, he’d never bothered to pay her backyard near Northshore Drive a visit.
A neighbor spotted a bear last week, she said, but still no sign of him her back yard, at least not until Tuesday.
“I was doing a bear dance, and it worked,” Levenson joked.
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Levenson said her three border collies were the first to notice the visitor when they started barking “furiously.”
“I thought it was the UPS guy dropping something off, but then when I came around and where the woods meet our grass, lo and behold he was right there,” she said. “I immediately tried getting my dogs back in the house. The female was the fiercest, and she was circling him, so he reared up on his back legs and swatted in her direction — not to hurt her, but just to get her to back off. So I got her and pulled her back in the house.”
Then the bear, which she estimated to be 150 pounds and called “adorable,” got to the business of doing what he’s become best known for — pulling down bird feeders for a snack.
Every morning, I was telling everybody, ‘Why won’t he come to my house? Why won’t he come by my house?’ Sure enough he did. It was so exciting.
“He moseyed over and expertly pulled down the suet feeder,” Levenson said. “Then he decided to climb up the tree and stay there for his snack.”
Wildlife officials request you call 911 to report bear sightings and put away all birdseed.
The bear’s visit lasted about 30 minutes, Levenson said, because after he was done munching, he took time to casually clean his paws, before climbing down from the tree and departing to the nearby woods.
Levenson said she stayed outside her house during the visit, filming and photographing him to post on social media and speaking reassuringly to him while he sat in the tree. She said she also called 911, which transferred her to wildlife control to report the sighting, as requested.
“I was never scared,” said Levenson, who said she’s read about the bear’s travels all summer and knew his M.O. “He looked at me, and it was like, ‘I’m just here for the suet.’ He kept an eye on me. He wasn’t scared of me, but he wanted to know where I was the whole time. It was really amazing realizing I was having an interaction with this sentient being. He deserves to be here.”
After more than a month of wishing, “here” finally included her house.
“Every morning, I was telling everybody, ‘Why won’t he come to my house? Why won’t he come by my house?’ ” Levenson said. “Sure enough he did. It was so exciting.”
A message was left for the state Fish and Wildlife Department warden, but has not yet been returned.