Boy tells story of bear meeting

Aug 8 2011 - 11:02pm

Images

(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) A bear feeds on berries near The Oaks restaurant in Ogden Canyon on Monday.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Hudson Mendoza, 9, describes a bear he saw in his backyard Sunday night in Ogden Canyon while watching “The A-Team” with his father, Scott, on a laptop in a backyard tent.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources left a pamphlet on bear safety with the Mendoza family after Hudson Mendoza, 9, and his father saw a bear Sunday night from his backyard at their home in Ogden Canyon.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) A bear feeds on berries near The Oaks restaurant in Ogden Canyon on Monday.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Hudson Mendoza, 9, describes a bear he saw in his backyard Sunday night in Ogden Canyon while watching “The A-Team” with his father, Scott, on a laptop in a backyard tent.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources left a pamphlet on bear safety with the Mendoza family after Hudson Mendoza, 9, and his father saw a bear Sunday night from his backyard at their home in Ogden Canyon.

OGDEN -- A wide-eyed 9-year-old boy who lives on the 600 block of Canyon Road in Ogden Canyon is hoping an encounter with a bear in his backyard Sunday evening will be something he can talk about for a long, long time.

Hudson Mendoza pointed to the exact spot where he was sitting in a tent with his dad, Scott Mendoza, watching an old episode of "The A-Team" around 7:30 p.m. when he heard a strange sound.

He jumped out of the tent to see a bear on the mountainside behind his home.

At first, his dad didn't believe him.

And as he insisted, the bear came forward into view.

"He jumps up on the fence and tries to get in," Hudson said, pointing to the spot where the bear put his paws over the fence.

"There were water bottles on the table. I guess it was investigating."

Hudson said he ran inside the house to tell his mom, Jen.

The two of them watched from the safety of a back window as the bear walked along their back fence and then hunted around a shed.

"I was saying, 'Hey, beary, how are you doing?'" Hudson said.

Scott continued to watch the bear from outside.

But when the bear lunged forward, Scott said he jumped a front fence, getting away into the street where he could continue to hear the bear moving about in a wooded area near the home.

Jen said she later heard that staring down a bear is not what people are supposed to do.

On Sunday night, Scott Mendoza called dispatchers, who sent officials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to the scene.

Officers who responded told the family to keep a close watch for the next few days.

They shared a theory that perhaps the bear could have been protecting some cubs.

Sgt. Mitch Lane, a DWR conservation officer, said there have been more bear sightings this year in Weber County than in the 15 years he has been working this area.

He said bear sightings were rare here but not so much this year.

Lane believes that deep snowpack, along with the long winter and cold, wet spring, may be why bears are coming closer to people.

Lane said his job is to keep people informed that there have been more sightings.

"We're trying to educate people to keep a clean camp," he said. "That's the best way to keep bears away. People need to keep their garbage secured and their food secured."

Lane said his department's biggest fear is that a bear will start to associate food with people, adding, "When we have problems is when bears lose their natural fear of humans."

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