DEAR JOAN: I recently saw a video on television of a young bear walking on its hind legs in a residential area. Everyone thought it was funny until they realized the bear's front paws were injured.
The newscasters seemed to think the bears paws would heal in six months or so. In the meantime it appeared the bear would not be able to forage for food.
I was surprised some wildlife agency did not come to the bear's rescue -- or maybe they already have -- as I have seen done with other wounded wildlife. I have been haunted by this bear's struggle.
Do you have an update on this bear's fate?
DEAR NANCY: The bear, nicknamed Vinnie, has gotten a lot of attention lately because of videos that have gone viral, but wildlife officials have been monitoring the bear since June.
They say that Vinnie's front paws probably were injured in a car accident, but that he is managing pretty well without assistance. Vinnie is believed to be younger than 3, and he weighs about 250 pounds. It appears he's already on the mend, able now to use one paw while still favoring the other. Because the bear, spotted wandering Oak Ridge in Morris County, N.J., is managing to get around and feed himself, wildlife officials are holding off on any attempt to trap and treat him.
While bears prefer walking on all four legs, they are capable of walking on two, and often do so if they have an injury. If Vinnie shows any sign of decline, wildlife officials will step in, but right now, an attempt to capture and treat him might do further harm.
In wild animal care, the goal is always to keep them in the wild, and sometimes that means letting nature run its course.
DEAR JOAN: I recently hung globe lights around the fence in my yard. I noticed that in one section of the fence the lights looked to have been severed in several places.
I immediately became suspicious that my neighbor perhaps cut them, but I had no idea why she would do such a thing.
A few days later, on a completely different part of the fence, shared with a different neighbor, the same thing happened again.
There are tree rats where I live in Pleasant Hill, along with many birds and squirrels. I initially would have guessed some critter was responsible for it, but they look like they've been cut rather than chewed.
Do you have any idea as to what type of animal appeared to have cut through the wires on these lights so cleanly? This is a mystery that is quite perplexing and bothersome.
DEAR JEAN: Rest assured that your mad light-snipper has four legs, not two.
I suspect squirrels, although you can't rule out rats.
The reason is frustratingly simple. The teeth of squirrels and rats continue to grow, so to keep them from getting out of hand, they gnaw on stuff -- twigs, shaker shingles, siding and electrical wiring.
Look at your cut wires. Are they "cut" at an angle? That's a sure sign of rodent involvement. They also will peel away the covering.
To keep rodents from your wiring, you can run the wires through a length of PVC pipe, which probably won't work with globe lights. You also can paint the wires with hot sauce. Squirrels hate the stuff.