Bear walks through yard of Sudden Valley house, surprising family

Black bear wanders near Sudden Valley home

Herald reader Michele Johnston shared this video of a black bear near a home in Sudden Valley on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
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Herald reader Michele Johnston shared this video of a black bear near a home in Sudden Valley on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

A family reunion in Sudden Valley got a surprise guest the evening of Wednesday, June 15, when a black bear ambled across the lawn of a North Point Drive home.

Stephanie Opsteegh was in the den with her husband Mathew Opsteegh and daughter Brittney Norris.

They were sitting on a couch visiting with other family members when Mathew, who was looking out the window, said: “Oh my god, there’s a big bear.”

It was around 9:19 p.m.

Stephanie thought her husband was joking until she turned around. There it was — a bear walking across her yard.

They checked to make sure the family’s Chihuahuas were in the house.

“We were in amazement,” she said. “We watched it for a while.”

Three of the five dogs — Nacho, Ginger and Austin — were in the den, barking.

“They were going crazy,” she said.

The bear walked from the front of the house to the back. Along the way, it sniffed at blackberry bushes.

Perhaps because of the loud barking, it stopped and looked at the family, which was about 25 feet away inside the house.

“We were watching him. He was watching us,” said Stephanie, who has lived in the house for 10 years.

And then it walked into the woods.

They called Sudden Valley Security and were told that theirs was the third call about a bear that night.

Stephanie said she was impressed, not terribly afraid, by the sight of the bear. If it was a cougar, she might have been more scared.

“Mostly, we just want to make sure we keep the dogs inside,” she said.

Black bears eat both plants and scavenged meat, rodents and termites, although up to 85 percent of their diet is plant-based.

The state Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Western Wildlife Outreach, offer these tips for the safety of both people and bears whether you’re at home or camping:

▪ Don’t leave garbage outside overnight.

▪  Remove bird feeders during bear season, April to November.

▪ Keep pet food indoors, and keep pets inside at night.

▪ Campers should take care not to cook near their campsite, leave garbage unattended or eat inside their tent.

The black bear population in the state is estimated to be 17,000 to 25,000, and just about every part of the state is bear country.

Details: westernwildlife.org.

Heading out on a hike? An Idaho Fish and Game officials provides tips for identifying black and grizzly bears and what to do when you encounter each.