If a giant, snow-covered black bear showed up on your porch in the middle of the night, what would you do? For Susan Kehoe, the answer was simple: call it a good boy, and use a tiny plastic rake to brush off the snow.
Kehoe, who lives in Highland Lakes, New Jersey, recently posted a video of exactly that maneuver. In the footage, you can hear her sweet-talking the animal as she uses what looks like a child’s beach toy to scrape snow out of its fur. Near the tend of the video, the bear turns and appears to be just inches from her face. In a firm voice, she tells the bear to sit—and it does exactly as it’s told.
Kehoe has posted several other videos of bears on her front porch. One features a bear she apparently trained to open and close her front door. The footage was an internet sensation. Some commenters found the video heart-warming. Others seem shocked that Kehoe would take the risk of letting a large carnivore into her home.
Kehoe seems to be aware of some of the risks. “WARNING!” her TikTok profile reads. “Bears are wild animals use caution & common sense in their presence.” Her frequent close encounters seem to fly in the face of that advice. Still, she’s been known to say that she and the bears have an understanding. In an interview with Inside Edition, Kehoe explained that she uses her tone of voice to keep the bears calm and encourage them to behave.
While Kehoe’s videos may seem endearing, it’s important to remember that a black bear is not a dog, however much it may resemble one. Like all wild animals, black bears can be extremely unpredictable, and they become more dangerous when habituated to human environments. Black bears that grow too accustomed to humans usually end up attacking people, breaking into buildings, and/or becoming reliant on garbage for food. These bears eventually having to be euthanized.
Last year, a New Jersey woman was killed by a black bear while getting her mail. This was just one of several reported incidents of dangerous black bear aggression in the area, reports OutdoorLife. Then there’s the oft-cited example of “Grizzly Man.” Timothy Treadwell was a grizzly bear enthusiast and self-made wildlife educator who felt he’d developed a rapport with Alaskan brown bears. In 2003, Treadwell was killed by the animals he sought to befriend.