Black bear

If you recall the soothsayer’s warning from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” you know the fortuneteller was alerting Caesar to the assassination plot being hatched by Rome’s senators, including Caesar’s trusted friend Brutus.

Shakespeare created great theatrical drama with the soothsayer’s dire prediction, and history confirms Caesar was attacked and murdered around the Ides of March in 44 B.C. In addition to their worries about Caesar’s growing authority over the empire, maybe his enemies were also angry; two years earlier Julius had changed the Roman calendar, moving the big New Year’s celebration from March 1 to Jan. 1. The new month was appropriately named January, in honor of the two-faced Roman god Janus, who could simultaneously look backward to the old year and gaze ahead into the new one.

March wasn’t the only month with ides. Every month in the Roman calendar had one, marking the first full moon of each month, usually occurring around the middle, between the 13th and 15th. Even in modern America, some embrace conspiracy theories that link dreaded events to the curse of ides. Is it just coincidence the Internal Revenue Service requires all tax returns by April 15? The IRS could have used Shakespeare in its PR department: “Beware the Ides of April” has a memorable ring to it.

Something else important happens around Big Canoe in March and early spring. Bears are out and about, looking for food after months of not eating during their long winter’s drowsiness. They are beginning to roam around now, hungry and searching for food at a time when their natural food sources are still scarce. These are real live big black bears, not Winnie the Pooh or the happy Berenstain kind that create fun adventures for kids.

Maybe a quick quiz will confirm what you know about these close bear neighbors of ours:

+ Does a bear poop in the woods?

+ Does a bear climb trees?

+ Does a bear think a tall squared-off log supporting your back deck looks like a tree?

+ Does a hungry bear love birdseed and its high-calorie content?

+ Do you like to revisit your favorite restaurant for a good meal?

+ Does a bear return to places where it has found a convenient and scrumptious meal?

+ Do you detect a problem here?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you likely realize this problem may lead to damage to your home, a real threat to the safety of your family, visitors and neighbors, as well as increased likelihood a bear will be killed to solve a problem caused by humans.

Thankfully, there are better answers to this issue. One of the best is our simple community regulation to put away outside bird feeders by March 1 each year. Feed our feathered friends during the winter months of December, January and February, then put away the birdseed. Your neighbors, the community and even the wildlife will appreciate your commitment to doing what’s best for all.

A Big Canoe rule, a rule we established for our own benefit, authorizes serious fines for residents or visitors who ignore or violate this common-sense birdseed policy. If a serious penalty impacts the pocketbook for a March violation, some folks will deserve to beware the Ides of March.

Most of our friends, neighbors and residents value Big Canoe’s guidelines for protecting wildlife. Encourage others to join you in making our commitments into reality.

Maybe Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar provided the simplest question you could ask others about their buy-in to Big Canoe’s special pledge to conservation. Big Canoe believes in protecting the lives of bears. “Et tu, Brute?” “And you, Brutus?”