When Greg Massey, a physical education teacher in Priest River, Idaho, put out a kiddie pool in his yard, he expected it to attract elk, deer or the occasional moose.
He didn’t expect a black bear.
“With how hot it was I started to worry about the animals in the area,” he said. “I thought, well, I’ll put out a kiddie pool. And he came along and stayed for three hours in that pool.”
Massey captured the animal using a game camera he has in his yard to get footage of passing wildlife.
Wanting to cool off is not unusual for bears, according to Roger Phillips, public information supervisor with Idaho’s Department of Fish & Game.
“It boils down to common sense,” Phillips said. “They’re generally food-motivated, but if they come across a kiddie pool, they’re gonna take advantage of it.”
Bears travel often in the summers, Phillips said. Hotter weather means berries ripen sooner and grass gets drier, he said, so bears don’t have the same food availability and will more often end up in neighborhoods.
On Friday, a bear found itself in a tree in a Spokane South Hill neighborhood, likely to escape the heat and find food.
The animal eventually gnawed a hole in the side of the kiddie pool that Massey repaired and put back out into the yard.
He said he will likely put out even more kiddie pools so animals can share the space.
“I have the utmost respect for them,” he said. “We’re not feeding them or anything, just giving them a place to cool off.”