Monthly Archives: January 2017

Black bears, the largest land mammals of South Carolina, once roamed the entire state. As human populations increase and development encroaches on their territories, there is more the likelihood of bear & human encounters.

Black bears are excellent climbers and good swimmers.     Bears prefer large expanses of forestry containing hardwoods, shrubs, blackberries, and pokeberries.  Wetlands such as swamps and bays also provide good habitat.   However, black bears are adaptable.  As long as they can find adequate food sources and have suitable den sites, black bears can be found in a variety of habitats..  They will feed on whatever is readily available.

Their natural diet consists of berries, nuts and plant matter (over 80 percent) as well as insects and meat (less than 20 percent). Bears use their incredible sense of smell to find alternative food sources such as garbage, bird feeders, outdoor pet food, agricultural crops, etc., which can result in them becoming nuisance bears. A shortage of natural food sources and lack of rainfall can cause home ranges to vary greatly. Black bears will travel large distances to find adequate food sources. In addition, juvenile bears, especially the males, must disperse to find new home territories. Dispersing juvenile bears have been sighted in many counties in South Carolina. These bears are usually transient and do not stay in the area for long.

Male black bears are generally larger than females. An average adult male can weigh between 150 - 350 pounds while the female averages between 100 -250 pounds. However, when food is plentiful, older bears have been documented at weights above 400-500 pounds. The largest black bear recorded in South Carolina was 609 pounds.  Their average life expectancy is 18 years in the wild.

Tammy Wactor, wildlife biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said there is an estimated 800-1,000 black bears across South Carolina, with most found in the more heavily forested and mountainous Upstate region, and a smaller population of 300-400 bears in the coastal areas (as of July 11, 2015).

Bears emerge fron their dens and come out looking for food in the spring ~ the peak of their breeding season is June, July, sometimes early August. They are most active at this time of year, and that, combined with habitat depletion, makes it more likely for humans to encounter them, and vice versa, said Kayla Brantley, a state bear biologist based in Horry County.

A state Department of Natural Resources official said it’s not a surprise that a bear was spotted crossing a street near homes just north of Myrtle Beach.

Black bears are not generally aggressive even when confronted by humans. However, due to their size, they need to be respected. No injuries or deaths have been attributed to black bears in South Carolina.

If you encounter one in your back yard like someone In the area of old Route 17 did recently when the bear was investigating their backyard cook-out (they left it and retreated into their home (and the bear had a gourmet meal).     If you find yourself in this situation, don’t corner the animal or make it feel threatened.   Stand your ground, and some say to raise your arms to appear larger.   Don't run.  Slowly back up, keeping your eye on the bear (not eye contact)  and try to put more space between you and the bear.  Talk calmly so that it can identify you as human.   A good way to steer clear of any run-ins with a wild animal is to secure trash, take down any type of animal feeder at night and keep grills clean.

Marie Coppola  January 2017

A visiting priest who is known for his wonderful homilies visited our church.  After he gave the homily, he requested that we didn't come up to him after mass and tell him how wonderful his homilies are but to pass his words on to others.  Here is his story retold in my words.

Recently, just before Christmas, this priest experienced passing some kidney stones that put him in the hospital for surgery.  While he was recuperating, a hospital volunteer came by with a sealed Christmas card for him.  As he put it, "She was older than Moses, and yet there she was close to holiday time, giving out Christmas cards to patients she did not know."  The priest placed the card on the table next to his bed without opening it.  A day or so later, he developed a fever and the only relief he felt, was to reach over to the table, pick up the enveloped card and fan himself with it.   He thought about the volunteer and how her action to be kind resulted in a reaction of gratitude and thanks from him.

He then spoke on how actions have reactions and sometimes, how no actions have reactions, too.   He asked us, "Have you done any actions lately that resulted in reactions?"

His homily on that Sunday was the celebration of the Epiphany (of the Lord).  The word 'epiphany' comes from the Greek word 'epiphainen, a verb that means "to shine upon"; "to manifest'"; or "to make known", and was connected to the visit of the Magi also known as the Three Wise Men.  It was a fulfillment of prophet Simeon's prophecy that Jesus would be a light of revelation to the Gentiles - to shine as the Light of the World.  The homily told a story of actions to reactions - the birth of Jesus, the visit of the Magi, the threat (action) of Herod to first-borns, and the flight (reaction) to Egypt to escape it.

We were asked again if we had done any actions recently that resulted in reactions.  He suggested we might imitate the volunteer who doesn't know that she is spoken of at every mass to many parishioners or that her action resulted in the reaction of comfort to an ailing patient.

What could we do to mirror her actons of giving and sharing?  Can we manufacture good reactions?  Can we forgive someone we are at odds with?  Could we send a letter of forgiveness to someone with whom we are angry and/or stopped talking to?

Could we make amends for some miscommunication or a bad attitude? Can we have our own 'epiphany' over some matter that we saw only our side on?  Can a 'light of revelation' be found in the actions of others and our reaction to them?  Can we cause a chain reaction of kindness through our actions?  We might gather balm for others as well as for ourselves if we see matters in another "Light".

Have you had an epiphany over anything lately?  Or about God?  If not, think about special feelings or events in your life and see if there is a revelation or ephiphany that you missed.

I recalled one as he spoke.  Once I had a dream in which God told me He was sending me a gift.  It was a very pleasant dream and shortly after, I received two gifts on the same day which could only be from God.  I wondered if one of them was the gift of my dream.   Off and on,  I wondered about this.

But which one was my 'dream gift'?  They were equally wonderful.   One day, much later, I had an epiphany.  They were both from God as are many other blessings He has bestowed upon me,  Everything He sends me is a gift.  And in His Wisdom, I felt He sent me two together and knew I would ponder and wonder about it.  It took awhile, but I got it.  All good things come frm God and all are His Gifts and I gve gratitude not just for one ~ but for all.

Actions have reactions.  And no actions have reactions.   Pass along an action that someone will react in happiness ~especially if it will be a surprise.  It will be balm for both of you.

I told the priest after mass that my reaction to his action of homily would be to create this article and pass on his words.  I also told him his homilies were wonderful.

{C} Marie Coppola January 2017