Meet the neighbor

In the Right Place


Editor’s Note: Brooklin author/photographer Richard J. Leighton creates the popular “In the Right Place” posts online about life and nature in Maine. He shares a post the second Thursday of each month in The Ellsworth American.

The former Washington, D.C., trial lawyer and his architect wife, Barbara, summered in Brooklin for more than 25 years before making it their permanent home in 2015. To see more of his work, visit


Summer is when we often meet new seasonal neighbors, which usually is fun. However, the first meeting with this summer’s most intriguing new neighbor did not go well — he was in the process of destroying our birdfeeder.

He’s the biggest black bear that we’ve ever had visit us; we guess that he runs well over 400 pounds. Watching a creature that big trying to munch tiny seeds would have been laughable were it not for the fact that he and we were eyeing each other at 40 feet and he had put our birdfeeder seriously out of torque.

But, he was true to his Black Bear Code. We yelled at him as if we were in charge and he loped away unapologetically. We eventually came to a neighborly understanding with him: we wouldn’t replace the birdfeeder and he wouldn’t come close to the house. He saunters by in our field at dusk every now and then, we wave to him and he seems to nod a “How’s-it-goin’?”

Maine has more black bears than any of the lower 48 states. Black bears virtually never attack out of aggression or even for protection of cubs, according to state wildlife officials. Apparently, the few reported dangerous confrontations in the state mostly involve very hungry bears, available food and panic by the bear and/or human.


                  — Richard Leighton

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