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Bear feasts on watermelons

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Charles Healy of Saluda holds a watermelon that was bitten and scratched by a bear that ravaged his garden.

by Tom Chillemi

The bear carried some ripe melons into a corn field and feasted. Others were eaten on the spot, judging by the tall grass that was mashed down.

The choosy bear left unripe ones lay where he had tasted them, but rejected them in favor of the sweeter mature melons. He also sampled a small pumpkin.

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Clockwise from left: Matted down grass and corn stalks show where the bear laid down for the feast; the bear ripped through the melons in search of the sweetest; and a quarter gives perspective to the size of the bear’s paw print in the soft garden soil.  (Photos by Tom Chillemi)
There appears to be more than one bear in Middlesex County. One was spotted in Deltaville earlier this week and on the morning of Thursday, August 13, Charles Healy of Saluda went to check his garden and found his watermelon patch had been torn up by a bear.
Scratch marks and teeth prints on the rind add to the evidence, said Healy, who noted a raccoon could not carry big, full-sized watermelons.

The bear left paw prints in damp soil and a large pile of fragrant dung in the garden, which is about two miles north of Saluda off of Route 17 on Forest Chapel Road (Route 614).

“It was a bear,” said Healy, “There’s no question about it.”

Healy and his wife live in Saluda, and were not near the garden when the bear had his feast.

UPDATE:
The bear returned to Healy’s garden on Thursday night, August 13, and ate the half-eaten melons it had opened the previous night, said Haley. “He just cleaned them out,” said Haley, who has kept his sense of humor as his garden is decimated.

The bear carried some of the unripe watermelons into the yard.

The bear left several dung piles that contain watermelon seeds, indicating he is the bear that was there before, said Haley.

Haley said a motion camera will be placed in the garden to try and get a photo of the bear on Friday night.

Related article:
Black bear in Deltaville

Related article with black bear video:
Living with Black Bears in Virginia

posted 08.14.2009

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