First, it was Nazi Raccoons, now it’s Native American Bears in the spotlight over the destruction of vineyards. In the Pope Valley, just 18 miles east of the Silverado Trail on the east side of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, vineyard owners have fought back and had the Bears shot and killed by local authorities.
Aetna Springs winery owner Paul Maroon led the fight.
“They damage the fences on a daily basis almost faster than we can repair them,” Maroon said. “The damaged fences allow the deer to enter. The bear eat the grapes, as do the deer, and they both damage the vines, sometimes killing 12-, 13-year-old vines.”
Maroon tried everything, well everything except an electrified fence and other similar methods. But those darn bears are just so destructive, trying to stay fed and all. It’s a miracle that locals survived this long! The same can’t be said for a few 12 year old grapevines, which faced utter destruction.
Black Sears Vineyards owner Jerry Sears has a different view of the bears ferocious appetite, writing off the lost grapes as a natural property tax for having a winery in the area.
Some are outraged by the murder of the noble creatures.
Ann Curtis, the director of Aetna Springs Golf Course, just down the road from the winery, called the controversy “wine for blood, life versus profit.”
“It isn’t just bears. Herds of deer have been killed over the same thing,” said Curtis, who has lived in Pope Valley for 34 years. “To come into a wildlife area and then kill off the wildlife is wrong. I don’t see much difference between throwing a sandwich out the window for bears in Yosemite Park and inviting them to dinner here by putting grapes out for them to eat.”