Bears in Berlin

In the Rocky Mountains of northwest Colorado, where I live, spring means BEARS.  We scurry out to the curb with our trash practically when we see the garbage truck coming, and haul in the empty garbage cans as soon as the truck is past.  If we had birdfeeders out in the winter, we bring them in.  Still, sometimes the bears get a little too close, like this yearling cub trying to open my back door last week.

Notice the cub's claws!

Notice the cub’s claws!

His mother and brother (or sister) watched with great interest.  Maybe they could all have a feast!


My door has a lever handle, and the cub knew how to push down on it.  When that didn’t work, he tried his already-powerful jaws.  All this was going on while I stood just inside the glass, hoping the deadbolt would hold. The note on the inside of my door says “Do not open this door!” I don’t want it left unlocked by accident.

My house seems to be located on an ancient game trail. Moose, elk, deer and bears parade past as if they owned the place–which, in a way, they do. Taking the wildlife officer’s advice, I have pots and pans ready to bang if bears come too close again.  These animals need to be kept wild if they are to survive.

Last spring at this time, I visited Berlin for the first time.  I saw bear statues everywhere, in bright colors and playful poses.

A bear appears on the city flag of Berlin, too.

Flag of Berlin

Flag of Berlin

No one seems to know when or why the bear became the symbol of Berlin.  There was an early ruler whose nickname was “The Bear.”  Or, more likely, the origin was a pun on the name of the city.  Sadly, though, there have been no bears in the entire country of Germany for almost 200 years.  Historically, wherever they appeared in Europe, they were exploited and abused. Farmers hunted them to extinction. In 2006, one of the 30 bears known to live in Austria wandered across the border into Germany. He was tracked for two weeks, then killed as a danger to humans.  Efforts were made to transplant bears into Austria in the 1990’s, but now they are extinct in that country too.

I feel blessed to live in a place where we try to coexist with the wildlife right outside our doors. I’ll do my part to help this magnificent creature live and thrive in the mountains!

2 thoughts on “Bears in Berlin

  1. Beth Anne Reed

    You gave me a flashback memory of my mom telling her north woods of WI bear story. She was putting us to bed in our cabin when she wondered why it was so very dark outside so she pressed her face up to the screen and saw black, then looking up she saw the unmistakable outline of a bear’s ears. She and the bear stood looking at each other quietly for a few heart stopping moments with only the thin screen in between when the bear ambled away.
    Thanks for sharing your bear story.


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