I had this post all ready to publish yesterday early afternoon. Then, with no explanation, our internet went kaput. It's one of the tradeoffs of living in the mountains - the internet is not reliable. In any case, this post is a day late... but I hope that you enjoy it!
I'm settling into the late summer routine, enjoying my time with the Labraduo on the trails and reveling in the obvious presence of bears all around us. My remote wildlife camera on an animal trail in a berry patch yielded a black bear walking fast through the patch and toward our house.
The sow isn't huge but is definitely an adult. She probably has a fertilized egg that has divided 4 times floating in her uterus. If she's fat and healthy enough when she enters hibernation, the embryo will implant in her uterus wall and she'll become pregnant. Otherwise, she won't have cubs. I hope she does - I'd love to have tiny cubs around again next summer! Even better would be if she had her cubs in the same den as she used last winter!
For perspective on the bear's size, here is K walking in almost the same spot in a photo taken by the same wildlife camera. K looks worried, probably due to the bear scent from the night before.
As they walked through this spot, Buffalo Berry bushes surrounded the bear and K. The bear didn't slow despite the bright red berries weighing down the bushes. I think that this bear will be back for the Buffalo Berries.
Some raspberries have ripened nearby as well. I wonder if bears like those better than buffalo berries.
Although it's tough to see much detail in the bear photos, there's a good chance that this bear was the sow from the den that I monitored last winter. A sow with cubs frequented this berry patch late last summer, and thus, it makes sense that she would return to this field of delectable foods. I wonder what would happen if she ran into one of her yearlings (who starred in the bear den videos) here? Would she share the berry crop or drive the youngster off? I do know that a mother bear often gives up part of her territory to her daughters. Daughters usually inhabit their birth area for their lifetimes. However, my understanding is that the mother bear will not visit the parts of the territory that she's ceded to a daughter. Perhaps that means that this sow is keeping the berry patch as her own.
After she walked out of the berry patch, the bear continued toward our house. Her path was obvious from ripped apart stumps. This stump was about an 1/8 of a mile from our house and was ripped apart on the same night as the photos were taken by my remote wildlife camera.
Bears rip apart stumps to get to the juvenile form of ants called pupae, baby ants in white soft cases. Adult ants protect the next generation (i.e., pupae) by carefully hiding and protecting them. By the time I spotted this stump, it was 8 hours after the sow had torn it apart so the worker ants had already rescued and stowed the surviving pupae.
At about the time of that night when the bear was near our house, our dogs went ballistic. However, the bear never entered our clearing and so my home wildlife cameras didn't get a photo. I think that the sow knows that there's no food available here, and she probably prefers wild food. She came within 100 yards of our house to dig up another old stump and then headed away.
The next morning, K and I headed onto the deck for breakfast, and K charged toward the railing snarling. She doesn't like it when bears come close to our house, to say the least!
K and her brother have been breaking into frenzied barking several times a night for the past 4-5 nights - and all signs indicate that bears have been nearby each night. We humans are getting tired from lack of sleep! Of course, the dogs just sleep even more during the day to make up for their sleep deficit.
Through all of this, K and I have been enjoying our daily mountain bike rides together, although K is on edge, becoming electrified when we pass a spot where a bear recently stood. To avoid having K harass any bears, I've been insisting that she always stay right by my side. Here, I'd stopped for a moment, and K poked her nose up under my handlebars. What a cutie!
And, K stood tall in front of our mountains.
Today, I took time to treasure both dogs, as it is a tough anniversary that I wrote about last year.
Coming up tomorrow, at another wildlife camera site, I captured footage of a mountain lion, a doe with a spotted fawn, and a single buck, one of the pair shown in the last wildlife video. Just so you don't worry, I didn't capture any footage of the lion near the deer although one of the bucks who usually appears with a partner was solo...