Smarter Than the Average Bear

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NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - A real live Winnie the Pooh apparently wreaked havoc in North Salem last week.

A bear in search of honey is believed to have torn through part of a welded wire fence at Farmer & the Fish on Titicus Road and took down two of the restaurant’s six bee hives on Sunday, May 29.

“Logically, we think it’s a bear,” said restaurant co-owner Mike Kaphan. “We called the [Department of Environmental Conservation] and they said it sounds like a bear, but no one sighted it. I don’t know of any other animal big enough or crazy enough to take down two active hives.”

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Kaphan, who does triple duty as a chef, farmer and owner at the farm-to-table eatery, said the hives at the Purdys location produce about 100 pounds of honey every year.

The DEC was called, Kaphan said, because of the need to protect the sheep at Farmer & the Fish.

“If he comes back to the farm, they would try to trap him and relocate him,” Kaphan said. He noted, however, that the DEC said it’s unlikely a bear would go after the sheep.

According to experts, bears go after hives for more than just the honey. They eat the larvae, or young bees, for a source of protein. The stinger is nothing more than an annoyance to a bear.

“The bees might have gotten a little revenge if he ate a couple,” Kaphan joked.

Overlook Road resident Marissa McDermott also spotted a bear this week, but police don’t know whether it might be the one responsible for the damage at Farmer & the Fish.

In an email, McDermott said her husband called her over to look at a coyote by a rock wall between her home and a neighboring property. As they drew closer, they noticed a bear taking a stroll with the coyote.

“It was just walking through and crossed Overlook Road to the [Joe Bohrdrum Field] park,” McDermott said.

Police were called and alerted people walking in the area, she said.

Another resident, Debby Moore of Mills Road, also reported an encounter.

“This little darling took out my dog fence Saturday night and downed the bird feeder,” Moore wrote on Facebook.

Police Lt. Andrew Brown said bears are very inquisitive and will go through any kind of food or garbage left out in the yard or road.

“Just generally, if you don’t want bears, don’t have bird feeders,” Brown said.

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