Looking for Her Chihuahua, Martville Woman Encounters a Bear

    By on October 1, 2014
    • Believed to be the same bear Tia Couperus saw outside her home in Martville, this photo has been circulating around Facebook, saying it was captured by a neighbor’s trail cam outside of Hannibal.

    • Tia Couperus of Martville took time to take a photo of the bear that visited her yard.

    Tia Couperus of Martville was trying to find her pet chihuahua when she encountered something much bigger.

    What she found was a large bear that had been wandering around her yard on the evening of Sept. 22 – a night she won’t soon forget.

    “I did the evening routine and let the chihuahua out, and I went to check at the door,” she remembers.

    She decided to give her dog, Gizmo, a few more more minutes outside. It was around 11 p.m.

    “Then I started to get worried. I went to the front porch and hollered for him,” she said.

    Tia described her front porch as a long one, running the width of her family’s home.

    “I went to my left. There is a motion light and it was on, so I thought maybe he (Gizmo) was over there. I looked and didn’t see him. I noticed something in the yard which I just assumed was a dog toy,” she said. The Couperus have two dogs, a boxer, which was inside, and Gizmo.

    “Then I ended up going to my right, down to the other end of the porch, thinking Gizmo was on the other side,” she said.

    Tia continued to yell for Gizmo to come back when she finally noticed “something black was moving. I turned a little bit, and it was a bear. I pretty much froze.”

    She remembers thinking it was a good thing she was up high, on the porch.

    “The bear was running but when he saw me he slowed down,” she said. “I didn’t think he was coming for me, but he was definitely curious.”

    “My head told me not to run, so I non-nonchalantly walked back as if I didn’t see him and went into my home,” she said. “I shut the door and at this point, I am freaking out.”

    “It hit me that Gizmo was still outside, so I started getting upset and worried for my dog and pretty much having a panic attack,” Tia said. “As I turned to look out the front door, the bear was walking up the sidewalk, headed toward the front steps.”

    Tia said you could tell the bear was curious. Not necessarily aggressive. But curious.

    “It had its nose up and you could tell he was sniffing the air. He had his paw up like he was going to step up to the first step, and I started to panic more,” she said.

    At that point, she tried calling her husband, who was upstairs and had a cell phone. Not having any luck initially, she turned back and noticed Gizmo by a sliding glass door at the back porch.

    “I ended up opening the sliding glass door in the back to let him in,” she said, “then I walked back to the front and the bear had turned around and started walking away. I don’t know if something spooked him or not.”

    She took a couple of memorable photos.

    “After I got my pictures, that’s when I called my husband down. I got him on the phone and I said ‘we have a bear.’ Of course, I’m stuttering and breathing hard and he said ‘what?’ and comes dashing down the stairs with Duke, the boxer,” Tia said.

    By this time, the bear was gone. “I have no idea where he went,” she said.

    “We turned the lights on and noticed the garbage can was tipped over and all of it was pulled out. A mess, actually. My husband grabbed the shotgun and went out and picked up the garbage. I had just filled them that day,” Tia said.

    She also noticed that a pole holding two bird feeders was bent to the ground. The bird seed was gone.

    “I had just filled them that day,” she said.

    It was a traumatic night.

    She called a neighbor with pets to give him a heads up.

    “Now I’m scared to let my dogs out,” she said. “It was interesting. When I was calling for Gizmo to come back, I was more annoyed than anything. When I’m calling him, I see something much bigger.”

    “It was a little too close for comfort,” she said. “Because we have kids. We’ll just have to be more cautious and keep things picked up.”

    She hasn’t seen the bear since that night.

    “Now we keep the garbage in the barn so he can’t get to it,” she said.

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    One Comment

    1. Jim Van Norman

      October 6, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Seems my picture is making its rounds. Even made it to a newspaper. Wow.