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Bear can do a lot of damage to a tree

by JoAnne Skelly
A bear takes to a tree in Minden in June. Bears can do a lot of damage to fruit trees as they try to reach their upper reaches.
Kurt Hildebrand

I can’t believe what I’ve been doing this past week. All gardeners realize there are a lot of repetitive, often tedious, tasks involved in gardening successfully.

I have been snipping off hundreds, no thousands, of crabapples. Most people let the crabapples stay on the tree for fall color.

Believe me, I would like to do that, but if I leave the fruits on the trees, the bears come, climb the trees and break off huge beautiful branches, destroying the aesthetic I’ve been creating for 30 years.

It only took one visit from a bear to destroy one tree. That was three years ago at least, and I’m still trying to retrain a branch into the big open hole that dang bear created.

After picking all the low-hanging fruit he attempted to climb to the outermost tips of branches that couldn’t support a cat, let alone a bear. Hence, I pruned out all the crabapples on three trees.

Fortunately, my friend Peggy came to help. We spread tarps under the trees as much as we could, because the only thing as mind-numbing as picking each crabapple is picking up each one from the ground.

The trick is to catch as many as possible on the tarp. That was Peggy’s wise suggestion. I got all the ones I could reach, and since Peggy is taller, she got the next level. Then it was ladder and pole saw work.

The moral to the story is, if you live in bear country, don’t plant fruit trees. If you have fruit trees and are worried about bears, you may want to remove them. Otherwise, be prepared for visits from your neighbors.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at skellyj@unce.unr.edu.