Castle Valley Comments – July 18, 2019

Late one evening last week, Roni Hemsley was driving home from work. About halfway between Chamisa Lane and Rim Shadow Lane on Castle Valley Drive a young bear appeared from the side of the road and before she knew it, they were proceeding side by side up the road until the bear finally turned off. She was rather surprised about the experience and also about how small the bear was.

About the same time something was tipping beehives over at the home of Lee and JoAnna Stoddard on Chamisa Lane. They could tell by the evidence left behind that is appeared to be a young bear. It was tipping the hives over and pulling the frames out and licking the honey from inside the frames. The bear didn’t do a lot of damage to the hives at first and they were able to put the frames back and put the hives back in the upright position. But this was happening every night for three nights in a row, so the State Division of Wildlife Resources was called for help.

On the final night one of the hives was damaged beyond repair, so fellow beekeeper Dorr Hatch took the remaining hives to his property where the bear had not yet discovered his beehives. DWR left a bear trap in the place of the hives and Lee Stoddard laced the trap with honey and other goodies to entice the bear inside. The bear didn’t take the bait for a couple of days, but finally late Friday night the bear couldn’t resist the goodies and was trapped. The whole event was captured on an outdoor video surveillance camera.

The Stoddards were then left to deal with a swarm of bees that had no place to go, and they were virtually prisoners in their home. Every time they went outside the angry bees, apparently without a queen, swarmed around them. If they wanted to leave home they had to make a mad dash to the car and get inside before the bees could accost them. They were left with several options to rid their property of bees, but those options involved smoking them out. But that involved fire so that wasn’t really an option considering a town ordinance banning open fires during the summer. Another option was to let them die off naturally in about 30 days or more, so in the end they had to be destroyed using a chemical spray.

A conservation officer from the State Division of Natural Resources picked the bear up later Saturday morning and relocated him to a new home somewhere in the Abajo Mountains. There was some speculation that there might be another young bear prowling around the valley because of bear signs that were found in the upper valley. But there have been no other bear reports since the capture of the bear on Chamisa Lane who, like most bears, has an obsession for honey.

During roadwork to the culverts on Castle Valley Drive near Miller Lane Wednesday, July 10, the town’s grader ripped out a telephone line, which caused a phone outage to the upper 80 area of the valley. The phone line was probably one that was added sometime during our telephone history when the existing lines couldn’t handle the volume of calls and more were added. It seemed to be a line that was dedicated to the upper 80 acres of the valley, since the phone service to the streets above Miller Lane didn’t seem to be affected by the outage.

The damaged phone line was in the culvert and only about six inches below the surface and not where the rest of the lines are located. Calls to Frontier Communications to get the problem fixed got only recorded messages, so finally a call to the sheriff’s dispatch center was able to get a repairman out. Service to the affected customers was restored by 8 a.m. the following morning.

The next Castle Valley Library program will be at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, July 23, according to Faylene Roth. She said that Walt Dabney, former superintendent of the Southeast Utah Group of National Parks will present a program on the history of public lands.

“The program,” she says, “answers a lot of questions and explains many current issues, such as: Where did our public lands come from? Why do the western states have lots and other states almost none? What does the Constitution say about these lands? What was the effect of the Homestead Act and the Railroad Act? How were national parks and forests established? Why are these lands held “in common,” so important to us today? These and other questions will be answered.