Deer Make the Worst Neighbors

Deer Make the Worst Neighbors


Live outside the city, and you should expect to encounter wildlife — not just squirrels and raccoons, but foxes, rabbits, coyotes and groundhogs, which inhabit the shadows around our homes and lend a bucolic, and sometimes murderous, quality to a suburban existence. (The fox in my neighborhood has occasionally taken out some of the smaller wild neighbors, leaving their remains for me to remove.)

Deer capture our imagination because of their sheer size. They’re the biggest creatures around — unless, of course, you live near something bigger, like bears.

Just ask Jen Dahl, 40, a high school teacher who lives in Rockaway Borough in Morris County, N.J., where bears roam and mostly dig through her trash. A few years ago, a bear family took over a backyard pool in the neighboring town, an incident that went viral on social media. And two years ago, Ms. Dahl’s son, Christopher Ryden, then 4, spotted a mother and two cubs in the yard when he was home with his grandfather.

“I yelled ‘Grampy! Grampy! There are bears outside!’” the young Mr. Ryden, now 6, recalled.

Ms. Dahl was at work at the time, but a neighbor texted her a picture of the bears casually strolling up her driveway, like good friends paying a visit. Ms. Dahl’s father, Jack Dahl, 72, scooped up the family’s Chihuahua before the bears got a hold of it and rushed his grandson inside.

Mr. Dahl called the police for assistance, but was told unless the animals posed an imminent threat, there was nothing to be done, except, of course, to post the incident on social media.

And so the family did what most of us do when our wild neighbors take over: They sat inside and watched in fascination as the cubs and the mother climbed a tree and hung out until they got bored and moved on to someone else’s yard.

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