Bears – Wolves – Panthers 1775

What a contrast in viewing wild animals in 200 years.

This past month [August / September 1975] a bear family has provided entertainment and some trepidation for a family with apple trees north of here. Of course the bears do not visit the trees in the open field but pass them for a tree within 40 yards of the living room window. The tree is now  thoroughly bear-pruned of good and poor branches alike.

There is the other side.  One keeps a watchful eye in going to the garden and on the household pits. This is both day and night as the visits of the bears occur any time. Officials are reluctant to attempt capturing the animals to remove them to higher ground because of recent deer tragedies. One man said he’d shoot any bear he saw as they have wrecked his honey business for the year.

Disaster struck this bear family as one cub was killed on the Northway. They will doubtless meet death with the trigger happy sports who• are waiting for the season to open — and it won’t be for the excuse of killing for food.

Two hundred years ago the people of Skenesborough would not be enjoying the antics of bears or other wild animals. Their domestic animals had to be securely penned to be safe from the marauders coming out of the forests. A bear often seized a lamb and ran off with it.

Wolves were a menace.  Mrs. Tryphena Wright of Northeast Skenesborough kept her eight sheep locked in a tree stump at night. But one night the wolves gained entrance, killed all eight and scattered parts of the bodies around the clearing and nearby woods.

Panthers also were a source of terror. If you’ve ever heard their screech, you know the feeling of having your hair stand on end. These animals were common in the woods around Skenesborough. Not man but the domestic animals were their prey, as witnessed by the ancestors of the late Wheaton Bosworth as they fled from the animal stalking their team.

Knowing the depredations of these wild animals, one can understand the last round-up of wolves in Kingsbury which sent the survivors to the hills of Dresden.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – September 11 1975

Some bits and pieces of Whitehall In 1922

Stories of the supposedly extinct panther are cropping up in the magazines today by people who are familiar with the woods. In 1922 many wild animals were being seen in Whitehall, driven out of the forest because of the fires, foxes, bob cats and panthers (puma, cougar, and mountain lion). Murray Brown saw a panther near Clear Pond. Then there was Edward Jones’ panther story. “Deacon Jones, a hunter and trapper, was hunting with his dog near Ed Moore’s. A panther came out of the woods with a loud scream. If you know the scream of a panther you never get over hearing in your mind its sound. It has the horrifying and terrifying sound of a woman in extreme agony. This one took after Ed’s dog. All three men, dog and panther went down the side of the mountain. It was [lie panther that gave up and went back into the woods.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – November 21, 1985