This summer was exceptionally cold. As a result, there are practically no berries in the woods. That leads to a lot of hungry bears roaming the forests and occasionally exploring garbage dumpsters in a desperate attempt to put on some fat before the winter sets in. Lots of bear excrements in the woods between Malinovoye, where our dacha is, and Luvenga. The locals who are in the habit of taking early morning walks say there are four of them in the five-kilometer long and narrow strip of trees between the seacoast and the road. As of recent, they have been containing a lot of rowanberries, which is not at all typical bear food.
A story from Chernaya Rechka (“Black River”) in Karelia reached me yesterday. A black bear occupied a cranberry field and refused to leave even when the local women shouted at it – not a typical behaviour for this beast. Now these women are said to go cranberry picking accompanied by men with shotguns.
Despite the current bear scare – many of the locals flatly refuse to enter the woods despite the abundance of mushrooms – bloody encounters between them and the humans are extremely rare. The last bear-related death here occurred several years ago when a certain fellow thought it a good idea to take a small cub home. The mother bear mauled and chased him to under his car, where be bled to death. But if you avoid doing things so outrageously stupid my guess your chances of being chewed up by a bear are negligibly small. Smaller than being hit in a traffic accident.