I've got bear fever - I can't forget my moments at the den or the precious video of the sow coming outside the den that I've posted on the past two days.
I realized that it was fascinating that NO other animals visited the bear den even just to sniff the entrance. I expected to see at least a few, perhaps a cat or coyote. However, the other forest animals left the bears in peace.
I also have researched other den observations to find out whether other bears exit the den to relieve themselves. I've found reports of bears exiting and then eating snow or defecating. However, I haven't yet found any reports of urination. It seems like a crazy thing to be researching but I really want to know whether something's going awry with our sow's health. Several of you mentioned insulin and possible diabetes, and that's one of the issues that I'm researching. So far, the various studies don't completely agree with each other - so I'm working on distilling a common conclusion.
Several of you commented on my last two posts about the danger of going so near a den, especially one containing a sow with a cub. Yet, I never felt afraid in my last two visits. I think that the main reason is that the bears are deeply sleepy. In fact, in my videos of the sow exiting the den for brief periods, she moved in slow motion, probably because her heart rate and respiratory rate were still sloth-like. A bear can't rev up her metabolism to normal levels very rapidly.
I think that a second factor might be at work. The sow and yearling have seen me three times now, and I wonder if they recognized me. I felt certain that, if I'd relaxed tranquilly by the den on Friday, the sow would've simply snoozed and ignored me. According to researchers at the North American Bear Center, a bear can learn to recognize individual people - and remember whether that person was a threat in the past. According to the anecdotal reports of those researchers, bears do NOT generalize this trust to all people but limit it to the individual who they know. I hope that's true.
At that Bear Center, they've placed a live video camera inside the den of a bear who gave birth to a cub earlier this year. Most of the time, the live feed shows a deeply sleeping mama bear with the cub hidden underneath her. She breathes so slowly, only a few times a minute, that it's sometimes hard to tell that she's alive.
However, they also have a gallery of video clips of the more interesting moments.
Today, our whole pack climbed up to a ridge that I frequently ride on my mountain bike. Of course, I haven't ridden it in close to two months. But, it's one of my favorite ridges close to our house with stupendous views to the west...
... and to the east.
K had never visited this trail despite how often I mountain bike on it because it's too far from home to ride to it with her. She and I tend to ride on the trails accessible directly from our house. I have a serious aversion to driving someplace to go for a bike ride!
The snow conditions varied dramatically, from no snow...
...to packed snow that R sprinted across...
...to deep loose snow that K porpoised through.
The Labraduo frolicked in the intense rays from the sun, arcing so high in the sky these days. Notice the short shadows of the dogs in the previous photos.
And then, both panted to cool off after sprinting around like puppies.
Being a dark colored dog in the intense Colorado sun can lead to getting hot very easily!
No doubt, spring-time is sneaking up on us. However, I looked back at my photos from March 7 a few years ago, and we had a fresh 2 ft of snow. March and April frequently bring us our biggest snow storms, like last April's 4' of heavy wet snow. So, the forecast is uncertain, except that it will eventually be spring. And, I intend to ride my bike in the spring! There's no stopping me!