ARARAT, Va. — The Patrick County countryside normally is a quiet, uneventful place, but that was not the case recently when Mary Dellenback Hill encountered an unexpected visitor in her yard.
It was a black bear that ventured to Hill’s cabin and raided her bird feeders.
“I opened the door and it ran away,” she recalled Tuesday.
What she believes to be the same bear returned about 10 minutes later to visit two of her bird feeders.
While some people might have panicked over such a sight, Hill said she remained calm and watched from a safe vantage point from a kitchen window inside the house. She subsequently was able to shoot some descriptive photographs of the animal from an open doorway without disturbing it, and also hoped to video the bear but was too far away.
Aside from witnessing a bear in such close proximity, something else made an impression on the Ararat woman: The animal appeared to have a white “V” on its chest.
“And I’d never seen a black bear with any white on it,” she said.
Since there were two different bear appearances, Hill added that a pair could have been involved, possibly a mother and its young offspring.
Bear sightings have been on the increase across the region in recent months, in many cases younger bears that have left their mothers to make their own way.
Though she lives in a rural area, Hill says bear sightings have been few and far between at her home. In the past, she was visited by a mother bear with two cubs, leading up to the recent sighting.
“I grew up between 1949 and 1966, about three miles from where I live now,” Hill said.
“We never saw deer, bears or turkeys. Now I have all three visiting me here at my cabin.”
Wildlife experts advise residents to not feed or approach any bears that might wander into their midst, and also say it is a good idea to have bear-resistant trash cans and take down bird feeders.