Animal #44 — Black Bear

ursus americanus

Tuesday, July 1, 2003 — 7:12 pm

Oneida County, Wisconsin — Route 17 at Cross Country Road

We spent two days in Rhinelander. On this night, we went to the White Stag for a steak dinner. After eating, we drove into Rhinelander to rent a movie and get some ice cream.

As I was driving south on 17 (just north of Cross Country Road), I spotted an animal walking across the road about 400 yards in front of the car. My first reaction was that it was a deer. (I’d had about seven run out in front of me during the day.) But immediately I began wondering. I called out to draw everyone’s attention.

The animal was walking slowly, and it wasn’t walking like a deer. Its legs were thicker and its neck stuck straight out in front. I asked, “Is that a bear?” Everyone one encouraged me to drive faster, and I did, but whatever it was kept on walking and disappeared into the trees along the road. Someone said it might be a dog, but we were all excited enough to be disappointed that we’d missed it.

When I got to where it was last seen, I slowed way down. There was a lot of traffic on the roads, but right at this point things cleared out and nothing was coming from either direction. I rolled along and we all looked off into the boggy brush. We soon came to a dirt road, and there, about 20 yards off the highway was a half-grown Black Bear. It was facing away from us, but when I stopped, it looked at us over its right shoulder, then immediately jogged off at an angle into the woods away from us.

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