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Suspected Bear Ransacks Home in Western Massachusetts

  • Ken and Francie Broden say a bear entered their home on Tuesday, broke their son's pottery and stole bird food.

  • Ken and Francie Broden say a bear entered their home on Tuesday, broke their son's pottery and stole bird food.



Daily Hampshire Gazette
Friday, May 19, 2017

Williamsburg, Mass. — Francie Borden came back from a morning walk with her dog Guthrie on Tuesday to find some sort of intruder had entered her house, shattered her pottery and stolen a container full of bird seed and dog food.

Borden said she believes a bear ransacked her house — hungry for bird seed.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “He was so intent on the food.”

Borden and her husband, Ken, who are 76 and 70, say bears have been lingering around the neighborhood. While they have not actually seen bears often, there has been evidence — a fence was broken, a suet cage feeder went missing and a galvanized can filled with bird seed is gone.

A few days ago, the couple saw a bear on their deck tampering with bird feeders it had knocked down. They had a couple of feeders hanging from an iron rod on their back porch.

MassWildlife district manager Ralph Taylor said in a previous interview that bears have the best olfactory system in the animal kingdom and their perspective on surroundings must be like a “kaleidoscope of scents.”

Bears in urban environments tend to rummage through garbage and tamper with bird feeders.

“We call them bear feeders, not bird feeders,” Taylor said.

To prevent bear encounters, MassWildlife says to remove all food from the yard, including bird feeders.

The Bordens did exactly that. After seeing a bear on their deck, they brought the feeders inside.

On Tuesday, the weather had warmed up to a high in the mid-70s. Francie Borden had opened the glass doors, allowing the warm air to flow through the screen door, but it also allowed an unwelcomed visitor to enter the house.

When she opened the front door, Guthrie froze and his ears perked up. By the front entrance to the house, Borden noticed a closet door was open and a plastic container full of bird seed and dog food was missing.

She said it was clear someone — or something — entered the house.

“Hello,” she said she called out.

With the container of bird seed gone, she said she suspected a bear had entered the home.

When she felt sure the house was empty, she made her way inside. In the kitchen, pottery that was placed on shelves was shattered on the floor and the screen door to the back porch was slid open. Some of the pottery was made by her son and others were family heirlooms. 

Ken Borden said there was a vase in the kitchen that was filled with bird seed on the top shelf, but the bear wasn’t able to get to it.

In the basement, he said, the screen door was torn and the bird feeders were on the floor with bird seed spilled.

Outside, the container was found empty in the backyard.

The next day, he said, the fence was broken, and he suspects a bear was on his property again.

From now on, he said, he is making sure the doors are locked and there’s no food source available to bears. But even with the food sources gone, he said, authorities suspect the bear will still linger around the property.

“The animal control people were not very optimistic,” he said.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.