A few hungry bears took advantage of the Gatzke Orchard in Oyama last week.
On Thursday, Alan Gatzke and his workers were picking apples until it started pouring rain. Soaked and bothered, the crew decided it was best to leave the apples in the 12-inch bins they had been filling and call it a day around 2 p.m.
The next morning the crew returned to what would have been a feast for the ages. Nearly 400 pounds of apples had been eaten by what they believe to be a mother bear and two cubs.
“They turned it into a bit of a playground,” said orchard owner Alan Gatzke.
“They were able to rip the sides off the bins and we had an avalanche of apples. There’s lots of mud all over them from their paws.”
Gatzke’s Orchard is located at the north end of east Oyama, along the fringe of a wooded forest. He said there is a ton of reports of bears habituating the area.
“We knew that the bears had been around,” he said. “There’s a lot of signs that they’re really active there. It’s particularly quiet and a good place for them to move there way in.”
Gatzke said the bears are an on-going concern and have actually been seen on his property on more than one occasion since the incident on Thursday.
“We’ve had a number of phone calls from people who want to hunt them and shoot them,” he said. “This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. If people hunted them for good reason I wouldn’t have a problem.”
Gatzke said the bears caused about $500 worth of damages.
The orchard is doing everything they can to keep the bears out and hopes the changing season will help with the problem.