Nature comes calling

A young black bear looks for seeds inside a bird feeder on the deck of Richard and Julia Paukert’s West Hazel Street home Thursday afternoon. The bear was on the deck about 30 minutes before escaping into some nearby woods after Stillwater Police officers were called to the residence. (Photo courtesy of Julia Paukert)

A young black bear looks for seeds inside a bird feeder on the deck of Richard and Julia Paukert’s West Hazel Street home Thursday afternoon. The bear was on the deck about 30 minutes before escaping into some nearby woods after Stillwater Police officers were called to the residence. (Photo courtesy of Julia Paukert)

Nature frequently visits the West Hazel Street home of Richard and Julia Paukert. On Thursday afternoon, however, one animal looking for an easy meal made itself at home on the couple’s outside deck.

Richard Paukert was in his kitchen when he glanced outside and thought he saw a dog on his deck. A second look told Paukert otherwise. A young black bear had ambled onto the deck, apparently attracted by what few seeds were left in the couple’s bird feeders.

“I was sitting at the kitchen table and thought it was a dog. When I looked, I said, ‘God, that’s a big dog.’ But it wasn’t a dog,” he said. “He was on the deck for about 20 minutes. I don’t think he saw me. I took about eight to 10 pictures.”

The Paukert’s home backs up to a wooded area near the Stillwater Country Club.

Paukert said it is not unusual to see a variety of animals in their yard, from wild turkeys to raccoons and other creatures.

Bears, however, are not common. Paukert said he believes the bear that visited his deck was about very young. Bears that age have been spotted in past years at a variety of locations throughout the St. Croix Valley. Although the animals are more numerous in northern Minnesota, northern parts of the Twin Cities metro area, including northern Washington County, are considered the far southern part of bear territory.

“We’ve heard they’re here, but we’ve never seen one,” he said. “I would say this one was one or two years old.”

Paukert said he reported the bear’s visit to the Stillwater Police Department. Officers went to Paukert’s residence and the bear eventually fled back to the woods behind Paukert’s home.

“We called the police and they got here just as he ran down the second deck and into the woods,” Paukert said.

The Paukerts have lived in their home nearly 25 years and Thursday was the couple’s first encounter with a bear.

“We’ve lived in this house 24 years and this is the first time we’ve seen a bear,” he said. “There was never any aggression of any sort. It was kind of fun to watch him.”

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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