At the base of this magnificant Red Oak is where the action is.
2016 was the year my 'Locals' discovered peanut butter. Finally.
They had shown no interest in it in any of the previous three years, and I will always wonder what it was that finally got them to take the jar.
It had been sitting in an old basket down on the berm for months untouched. (shown below).
The jar was finally taken on June 28th, 2016.
Once they discovered the delicious treat in that jar, they started taking it often. Many times they would take three or four jars in a row till I ran out of peanut butter and had to make a run into town.
It is so exciting to walk down to the berm to see if my'friends' had been there.
Sometimes I would get a gut feeling, like a 'knowing' in advance whether a jar would be there or not. Most times I would be right.
On some evenings my neighbor's dog would give them away. There is a certain kind of barking the dogs do when the Sasfolk come around.
The jars were being taken with such frequency that I began to wonder if it really were the Sasfolk. So I began putting the jars in the original gifting crate...and I started making it more difficult for the jars to be removed.
First I wired the jars to the corner of the crate. (Pictured above). That didn't stop them. Then I tried duct tape. The duct tape was definitely destroyed by something with little teeth, so I knew that some of the jars were going to critters.
I then decided to string a jar high into the limbs of the oak tree. I wanted to make it really difficult for a raccoon, so I used 10lb test fishing line. (I don't believe a raccoon could climb up or down it.) When I was through, the jar was hanging 7 or 8 feet above the ground. I also taped a ziplock bag full of Graham Crackers to the jar.
When I came down to the berm the next day the jar was gone, and the fishing line was exactly as I left it. It was in perfect shape, and not stretched. It looked like someone had simply unscrewed the lid and unwrapped the line.
So I put a new jar on that evening in exactly the same way, same limb. Next day...same result.
So the third day, I took a new jar, poked a hole in the threading part of the jar and tied the fishing line. The screwed the top down on the line. I raised the jar over 8 feet off the ground.
The next morning...the jar was gone...and this time, as I suspected, the line was stretched and broken as I assumed it would be. The little video below shows the placement of the jar.
What a GREAT feeling! It's difficult to describe what it feels like to know you are making a connection and building some kind of bridge between you and them. It's been my purpose all along. It has just taken a whole lot longer than we hoped.
And honestly I believe it was our attempts to get thermal footage of them too early in the project, that created the distrust. It's so difficult to refrain from trying to obtain footage, when you are having good activity, AND you looking for funding for your project.
It's a 'Catch 22' that independent resarchers, like our team, struggle with constantly. If you can obtain footage, you might be able to attract funding. But in the process, you risk destroying their trust. Maybe one day...people like myself, who are willing to dedicate all their time to this research, will one day find the funding that will support working full time in the field. Who knows? Maybe 2017 could be that year!
In the meantime... The PB Heist continues...
I'll share more photos and video of the days that followed in Part 2.
Thank You for being here. Your support is so deeply appreciated!