When applying for a volunteer campground host position on Volunteer.Gov, the duties that are listed tend to be fairly similar. Greet guests, answer questions, pick up litter, handle noise complaints, tell people about keeping their dog on a leash and so on. Today we learned about a job duty that wasn’t actually listed when I applied for our current position – chasing bears.

Black bears are pretty timid, in my opinion. They tend to mind their own business and really don’t like loud noises. I believe a black bear is happiest when there are plenty of leaves, berries and acorns to consume. Here at Shenandoah National Park, they want to keep it that way. So for the safety of the bears and campers, we have the task to chase bears away when they get into or near the campground. Today, I spent about 45 minutes chasing a yearling around a wooded area between two of the campground loops. About a week ago its mother left the yearling in the area, as she went off to look for a male bear. The yearling was now on his/her own.

The hardest part is trying to get the bear to move in the direction with the least amount of campers. This is difficult for many reasons. The bear had its own ideas and kept circling around into the wooded area to hide. Also, everyone wants to see a bear and when they hear the air horn I use, they gather around to watch. So with more people comes more noise and the bear really doesn’t want to move. In today’s case, the bear kept climbing up a tree to safety. Eventually the bear came down and we were able to funnel it through a campsite and out of the campground. I am sure the yearling will be back again and we’ll chase it away again.

Along with chasing bears, we get calls to remove rattlesnakes… I haven’t seen one yet, and suspect that task isn’t as fun as chasing bears. But I do know that in the future, when interviewing for a position, I will ask about those “unwritten” duties that are included.

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