Wildlife Photography Catawba VA

After putting out all the feeders when we arrived here in Catawba VA, we noticed the bigger animals started coming around using our bird feeders. We had 2 bench feeders and 4 hanging feeders on the property. Since it was around the end of May and beginning of June all the new born babies were around now and the mom's were thankful for the extra food. First it was the deer and a few days later we saw our first bear. We never expected to draw in deer or bear, but I guess they could not resist the sunflower seeds. When we moved here we knew the county was supposed to have a big black bear population, we just never expected to see them in broad daylight in our yard 15 feet from the house eating our bird feed. Well we ended up putting seed out 3-4 times a day from all this activity, and at the price of 40lbs of seed this was getting costly quickly. Within 1 month we went from no birds or animals to birds everywhere and deer everywhere and 14 different black bear on our property. They all had a big appetite too.

When we first arrived it was raining heavily and so as we stood on the porch we looked down by the creek and noticed a black figure running down the river bank. It ran like an otter runs, but it was smaller. It ran from one end of the property and then back towards the other end. We noticed on the return trip it had a black object in it's mouth. We managed a blurry photography shot of it in the dark rainy day. The image was bad for showing, but we determined it was in fact a Black Mink carrying a young baby in it's mouth. The water was rising on the creek so we noticed it was moving it's litter to a new place away from the rising water. We haven't seen it since that day though. We took a shot of it's foot print and that was the only clear photograph we got of it.

We had several encounters with the black bear here in Catawba VA and learned a lot in a short amount of time. First black bears want left alone and they are not usually aggressive at first. The more they get familiar with you though, the less they see you as a threat. This also means they don't scare off as easily either. Also don't think you are going to outsmart a black bear and make something "BEAR PROOF" that ain't going to happen.
Black bears are fun to watch, but in the end they are destructive We learned that quickly. As we were photographing these black bear in Catawba VA we posted to Facebook in a group for Wildlife in Virginia ....long story short one of the admins in the group turned us into the game warden and told us it was illegal to feed bears.  We never heard of it being illegal to put out bird feed and have bears eat it. Well that same day when the game warden showed up he explained it was in fact ILLEGAL in Virginia to feed bears weather on purpose or by accident. He was a nice guy and explained everything to us since we just moved from NC, where he had lived previously also. He saw we did bird photography and knew it wasn't intentional, but we still had to pull up our bird feeders till they left. So we did and within 1 week they all disappeared back into the woods. Now we have 2 dogs and no black bear comes around, so that solved that problem. It was fun to watch them for awhile but I am glad they left, they cost too much to feed and too much to do the repairs of what they break. So we are back to bird photography around the house anyway, and a little wiser.