Diane Becker, "Country Life"

If I hadn’t seen a wolf the day before, I might have been more confident telling my family sitting on the deck of our vacation rental that there was a bear in the yard.

We had seen lots of wildlife the day before in a drive through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Although it was a bit rainy we still caught sight of lots of different wildlife as we drove down Trailridge Road, including the male elk with the huge antlers that looked as if they would topple him over when he bent his head down to eat grass.

There were also moose with their huge antlers, deer and a marmot staring at us from the meadow along the road. We couldn’t agree about the wolf though.

TWO OF us in the car said the way the animal held his grey head keenly above the grass as it loped along definitely proved it was a wolf. Two other passengers weren’t as convinced. They said it was more like a fox or a coyote. Looking up Rocky Mountain coyotes and wolves on our phones didn’t help as we both thought the photos confirmed each of our opinions.

But then I saw the bear. We had a rented home for the weekend with a rocky area for a back yard, and I thought it’d be fun to walk around it as other family members sat drinking coffee on the deck overlooking the yard. I yelled at them to look and took their photo as they leaned on the deck rail.

After checking out the photo, I took 10 more steps and thought I saw a pile of old fur 15 feet away ahead of me under a tree. Maybe it was just a pile of leaves, I thought, until I noticed what looked like the pads of the bottom of a large foot.

I tiptoed away knowing my family would not believe there was a bear just 30 feet from where they sat.

“You guys aren’t going to believe me but I think there’s a bear under that tree,” I said.

DAUGHTER NATALIE ignored the group’s snickers and came off the deck to have a closer look. As we tiptoed closer to the pile of something, we saw a definite bear ear perk up. We tiptoed back to the house and then waited as the bear sat up and looked at all of us gaping at him from the deck rail. He didn’t seem mad at us for ruining his nap, but he must have wanted a more peaceful spot, so he got up and lumbered off — a full-size bear.

It was satisfying to be right about the bear in the backyard, although I don’t like to think how I came close to literally walking up on him.

Wouldn’t you say that since we saw a bear in the backyard we definitely saw a wolf the day before?

Absolutely.

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