Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bear vs. bobcat territory - on video

We started our long weekend with a picnic atop a peak labeled a "Hill" that soars over 10,000'. We slogged through hillsides of spring snow to reach our little hill. The high peaks around us evoked images of deep winter with their sparkling snow.
As we sat on our little hill, the dogs seemed mystified that a picnic didn't include a dog dinner. We're starving, they seemed to say!
We lingered until the sun dropped below the summits to our west, enjoying the breath-taking views and absolute solitude.
As we retraced our steps to the trailhead, the world morphed into a pinkish blue hue around us.
For the past two days, I've ridden my mountain bike with dogs, enjoying their exuberance.
Both halves of the duo streaked around me as I pedaled the trails.
The world seems to become more summerlike by the minute. Just a couple of days ago, this trail was a tunnel through naked aspen branches. Now, tender light green leaves have unfurled. They seem so delicate, like they might not survive in our harsh world. They remind me of my pale skin when it's first exposed to the sun in the summer.
And, new flowers have blossomed - early larkspurs - glorious purple creations.
Alas, there is a downside to the birth of summer in the mountains. Our neighborhood email list is ablaze with reports of illegal shooting, campfires left burning, and trespassers. Most people who live up here endure the long winters for the peace of living in the middle of the forest. We all become shell-shocked when non-locals, some of whom don't value nature for its beauty and quiet, invade at this time of year.

So, my solution is to ride on the most remote and difficult trails that I know of. Very few people even know that these trails exist. Some are very tough riding, like the one shown below.
The reward is that wildlife love these trails. I try to tread softly while reveling in the knowledge that a cat or bear might be nearby at all times.

On my route yesterday, I found some new "Bear trees" - trees that bears have climbed, leaving behind their tell-tale claw marks. The scarred marks on the aspen shown below probably were left by a bear many years ago.
However, nearby, I found fresh claw marks, together with a muddy paw mark, telling me that the cub who climbed this tree did so VERY recently.
I've had a wildlife camera set up next to this trail for months, and NO animals passed it until about a week ago. Since then, numerous bears and one bobcat have ambled by. The video below shows a bear who lumbered past the camera on Friday afternoon and stopped to rub his/her back with a pine sapling. I'd read about this territorial behavior - but I was ecstatic to see it in my own video!

Then, in the evening, a bobcat sauntered past, leaving a scent mark right in front of the camera. I chose this spot due to the many signs of cat dirt scrapings that I'd seen there over the years. Most of the scrapings were left by lions. They were huge compared the scraping done by the bobcat in the video. I wonder if I'll get a lion marking that spot soon?

Intriguingly, after leaving his scent mark, the bobcat strutted up to the pine sapling that the bear marked 7 hours earlier. The bobcat threw himself on the ground and rolled on the spot. He vigorously wriggled on his back for a long time. He was still doing it when my camera stopped recording. Do you think that the bobcat was making an authoritative statement by trying to overshadow the bear's scent with his own? While I knew that bears vie to win the "scent marking contest" by covering each other's scent, I had no idea that a cat would be competitive with a bear. I find this stuff absolutely fascinating. What I love about the wildlife cameras is that I see the animals acting normally, uninfluenced by human presence.


  1. Wow - would not seem like they would compete very much with mostly different food sources, but you never know. Fascinating to watch both of those magnificent animals.

  2. It was a lot of fun to watch both of them! It almost seemed like that fiesty little bobcat wanted to see if he could mess with the bears in some way, and thought, if I make everybody think he's a cat, won't that be funny! I hope you get a lot of video from that spot.

  3. I once thought that only Birch trees were white and black, but the aspens are too. They must be related!

    I loved the bear that grabbed the young tree and used it like a back-scratcher! Funny!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

  4. I'm going to have a Jungle Book
    earworm all night!

    Can we call the bear Baloo?

    Khyra still likes the khytty!

    Again, thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Fascinating video. We immediately thought of the tree being a back scratcher too.

  6. Hi KB! I'm back in my home territory but not marking yet like your bear and bobcat! What a fabulous video - I laughed at the bear's dexterity with the tree! The cat seemed to be rubbing its cheeks into the bear scent. How interesting to see this kind of behavior! Also, I'm trying not to be jealous about the larkspur. Don't know what is blooming on my trails yet - have to leave for Denver early AM. My D-i-L's surgery is Tues. Keep fingers crossed!

  7. What a wild video!! Great trail to have the webcam. Can't wait to see future footage.
    You all had a most beautiful spot for your picnic!
    Our neighborhood newsletter from yesterday was about how another neighbor had mail stolen from their mailbox... Guess it's tough to truly escape...

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  8. Positively extraordinary. Are you supposing that both these animals are males? Or females? I know nothing about territory, but I'm wondering if alpha females are as interested in territory as males? The marking by the camera by the cat looks like a female, but what do I know? I'm not sure it even matters, but it's all fascinating! I think that's a feisty little bobcat, no matter what. He might not win face to face, but he can do what he wants with scent, I guess! Very amazing and cool to watch! Thanks for posting and your picnic looks fabulous - what a sight - that sunset was so dramatic! Sorry about the irresponsible visitors - how rude, annoying and horrible. That trail looks horrendous! (But what cams you caught!)
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie and Mom

  9. incredible video! you must get so excited to view these cameras and then to get these images that are so amazing!!!
    like to see the snow...still!

  10. I can not believe that bear, just seeing his muscular body movements while walking and then his standing and reaching for the limb and rubbing his back...just so human like...really great video, KB.

  11. It looks like everyone is a little competitive when it comes to leaving peemail. Never would have thought that.

    I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!

  12. Holy cow. You've done it again. This is incredible video. I am so envious!!!

    Love the twilight tree and larkspur shots, too. Larkspur. How'd that happen so fast?!?

  13. What a great video! I love how the bear grabs the tree limb to help him rub his back. So cute!

    The bike trail looks fun, but a bit scary. And the larkspur is very pretty.


  14. video was too funny...I never realized how "human" bears can really look...


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!