Family notices backyard pumpkin was moved — and spots bears fighting in Massachusetts

A family in Massachusetts woke up one morning and noticed one of their pumpkins had migrated across their backyard overnight.

So they searched for the critter they figured must have munched on it.

“I thought there must have been a deer passing through who took a bite,” the homeowner — named Ashley — told McClatchy News over the phone. “I was expecting to see a deer — but then I saw a bear, so I pulled out my phone and then another bear showed up.”

She captured video of the bears brawling around her backyard on their hind legs as she and her two kids watched from the safety of their home on Oct. 20. She asked that her family’s last name not be used in this story.

At first, the family thought the bears were really fighting with each other. But their fear turned into delight when they realized the bears were “play fighting,” Ashley said.

“Woke up to this in our backyard. Our morning alarm clock!” she wrote in the caption on the video posted to YouTube.

A few days later, she noticed the pumpkin was squished, as if something had tried to get at the tender pulp inside, she said. And she learned bears will in fact eat pumpkins.

“The next day I had my husband remove the pumpkins from our yard, and that seemed to be an easy resolution to the problem,” she said. “Time to bring those jack-o’-lanterns inside once Halloween is over!”

What to do if you see a bear

Bear attacks in the U.S. are rare, according to the National Park Service. In most attacks, bears are trying to defend their food, cubs or space.

There are steps people can take to help prevent a bear encounter from becoming a bear attack.

  • Identify yourself: Talk calmly and slowly wave your arms. This can help the bear realize you’re a human and nonthreatening.

  • Stay calm: Bears usually don’t want to attack; they want to be left alone. Talk slowly and with a low voice to the bear.

  • Don’t scream: Screaming could trigger an attack.

  • Pick up small children: Don’t let kids run away from the bear. It could think they’re small prey.

  • Hike in groups: A group is noisier and smellier, the National Park Service said. Bears like to keep their distance from groups of people.

  • Make yourself look big: Move to higher ground and stand tall. Don’t make any sudden movements.

  • Don’t drop your bag: A bag on your back can keep a bear from accessing food, and it can provide protection.

  • Walk away slowly: Move sideways so you appear less threatening to the bear. This also lets you keep an eye out.

  • Again, don’t run: Bears will chase you, just like a dog would.

Don’t climb trees: Grizzlies and black bears can also climb.

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