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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bears all around us

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...


  1. We used to grow raspberries at a farm in Scotland. I'd always assumed that they were indigenous. Are yours growing wild from an old garden ?

  2. What an interestng post K. Love those rasberries. The wildlife caught in the camera is awesome. Can't wait for more pictures
    Benny & Lily

  3. I went back to see about the "anniversary" and found such horror - you must be THE most courageous person on earth. I don't blame you for having lost faith in the human race (but there are some individuals who are pretty awesome...). What a nightmare. Even more impressed by the track you've followed in your life; facing rather daunting wildlife, sometimes head on and placing cameras in dead winter (or summer) in places that are scary. Or riding your bike/hiking when you are in severe pain. I salute you hugely and honor all the amazing things you do, KB!!! Love all the pix in this post and look forward to tomorrow's! Berries look so tempting!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie, the crew and Ma

  4. Oh KB, I'm trying to remember the rest of your post, but I'm sick to my stomach after reading about the tragic loss of your Rover. I've wondered a few times what happened to him, after seeing his picture on your sidebar. I'm so sorry.

    A good reminder to treasure each moment with our pups, and you sure know how to do that!

  5. I remembered reading that post last year, and one time went back to read it again, because I just couldn't believe how awful it was. You sure have lived through a lot, friend.. I'm sorry that you crossed paths with such an evil individual.

    K sure does look on edge in the picture on your deck. Are those hackles I see raised? The must have really smelled a strong scent from the bear!

  6. I am so sorry of what happened to Rover and to you. It was awful.

    I often wonder what my girls would do if they were to smell or hear or even see a bear.

  7. I have a lump in my throat I'm sure isn't going to go away today.

    Thank you for the moving tribute and for linking back to it, because I wouldn't have known to go looking for it.

    I too salute you for the direction your life has taken since that tragic day. Today's post is a wonderful acclamation of the mark Rover (and Astro) made in your life.

  8. Oh dear, we didn't know you last year and so never saw that post. How very awful that experience must have been. We are so sorry that you and your family had to be so traumatized by such a stupid person. Our hearts go out to you as you remember your beautiful pup.

    At the same time, we were fascinated by your report about all the bear activity. Glad your dogs are so alert to their presence. Do be careful.

  9. As I said last year, what a brave and crazy thing you did for Rover. He has always appreciated your comfort in his final moments here.

    P.S. - We totally understand about that internet / mountain life thing.

  10. I was thinking about you tonight while I watched the news about the story of the bear attack in Yellowstone. I know it happens rarely, but when it does, it certainly stirs up a fervor. It reminded me of the trip my sister and I took with our dad to Yellowstone when a bear had just attacked a camper in a similar fashion. I figured if you'd been there, the bear probably would have just turned around and given up!

    I'm sorry for your sad anniversary today! I knew there had been a sad event surrounding his death, but I didn't know what all it entailed before today. I'm not the least bit surprised that you stayed with him, though! You have a pretty stiff backbone! ;)

  11. Your wildelife cameras are amazing, knowing all that activity is happening in your backyard!

    Scary too

  12. Kia ora KB,
    I just love bears. If I was to be a creature of the wild it would be a bear. You are becoming a real bear expert and I am sure that knowledge will be of value.
    I read your story and my condolences for your loss of so long ago, it is an appalling incident. I used to be a hunter, but no more, and i have strong feelings about it for my own reasons.
    I have just returned from a solo winter mountain tramp and have another in a few days with my oldest friend from the states who now lives in Tasmania.
    As John Muir wrote, "Go to the mountains and feel their glad tidings!"
    Thanks for the continued inspiration KB. Kia kaha my friend.

  13. I love the way K models! Those berries look good enough to eat - no wonder the bears are foraging. Can't wait to see the mountain lion! I'm back in Breck.


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