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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A story in photos: the bear den April-August 2010

I discovered an occupied bear den last February. After placing a motion-activated wildlife camera outside the den and monitoring the family last winter, I did not go near the den for seven months after last winter's bear family departed to avoid scaring bears with human scent. I'm glad that I decided to stay away - the den is an important site for bears in our forest, based on how many times it was visited this year.
Last winter's occupants
A yearling cub last winter

To see more footage of the bear family outside their den last winter, visit my wildlife photo page that lists all my wildlife photos and videos. Scroll down to "Photographs and videos from outside a bear den...".

In this post, I'll chronicle bear events since last April, focusing on the visitors to the bear den. Please excuse the details (and ignore them if you wish) - they are written down for me to try to identify individual bears and where they traveled throughout the year.

A bear who I've dubbed "Scarface" extensively investigated the den site in April, within weeks of the bear family departing.
He ended his visit by sniffing the wildlife camera!

A bobcat, looking tiny compared to the bears, crossed in front of the den.
Between the bobcat visiting the den and the next bear visitor, I captured bear activity at several other sites in the forest.

5/24/10: a bear visited our clearing.
5/25/10: bears walked along Black Bear Trail shown here and here.
5/27/10: A bear marked a tree on Black Bear Trail and then a bobcat vigorously marked the same spot. This is a "must-see" video for seeing bear marking behavior and the reaction of a bobcat to it.
6/10/10: a bear visited our clearing. I don't know if it was the same bear as visited the den on 6/10/10 because the den visitor never showed her face to the camera.
6/10-6/12/10 ("Black Bear Parade"): A bear walked Black Bear Trail and marked trees around 12:40 PM on 6/10/10. Another bear marked trees on Black Bear Trail at 8:40 AM and 8:00 PM on 6/11/10. A small cinnamon bear passed the same area at about 9 PM on 6/11/10. If you've never seen bears marking trees, the "Black Bear Parade" video is hysterical!

Near the start of mating season, an unknown bear briefly visited the den site. I suspect that she was a sow because Scarface, almost definitely a male, followed her the next day. Here's the suspected sow:
Here's Scarface:

On 6/15/10 at 6:26 AM, a bear strolled along Black Bear Trail who looked a lot like Scarface.

On 6/20/10, a large black bear visited our clearing.

In the midst of this maelstrom of bear activity, a deer visiting the den seemed fascinated by the ursine scents. I'm surprised that she wasn't afraid of the site.
A thin cinnamon bear visited the den and appeared on wildlife cams all over the forest in June and early July (it might be the same bear as was on Black Bear Trail on 6/11/10 at 9 PM at the tail end of the "Black Bear Parade" video). I haven't seen signs of him/her since this den visit. I think that this was a "non-resident" bear cruising for a mate.
On 7/2/10, a similar-looking cinnamon bear as above walked Black Bear Trail and sniffed a "bear whammy tree" (a pine sapling marked and broken by bears) but didn't mark it.

On 7/3/10, a bear walked along Black Bear Trail and visited the den. She reminds me of the sow who used this den last winter. She arrived near the den with her rump shedding...
Sniffing the ground in front of the den...
Approaching the den entrance...
Sniffing the roof of the den entrance...
Sniffing the fallen tree gnawed by many bears over the years...
Preparing to depart...

A mule deer doe stopped by the next day.

On 7/6, a bear licked and sniffed a wildlife camera on Black Bear Trail (BBT) and a bear with a "mane" walked BBT. Similarly, on 7/10, a bear gave my "den camera" a very close examination but never checked out the den.
Then, the den site was quiet for months while bears gorged themselves on berries and other delectable forest foods after the mating season ended. My wildlife cameras photographed a bear on a berry-covered slope on 7/23/10, a bear "investigating a camera", and a bear passing a camera in August.

This story will be continued. Obviously, I have several more months to tell you about to bring you up to date on the activities at the bear den!

K has informed me that I cannot have a post without a dog photo. Here's a "K at sunrise" photo!


  1. Awesome chronicle!
    And K is a very smart gal! And looks absolutely stunning in the morning sun!
    ( I now have your blog link on my other blog too)

  2. I wonder if she's considered a Furminator for her den?


    Seriously, thanks for sharing those great ursine moments!

    We are so hoping there will be more cub action this year!

    And YES: a K and/or R pic is required!

  3. Thank you for sharing those wonderful photos. Just don't tell the world where the bear den is or a sight seeing bus will pull up out front.

    Mogley G. Retriever

  4. Miss K, your photo is the best of the whole group! :)

    It's funny how easy it is to indentify the individual bears. I am hoping you have good luck with the den this year like you did last year! It was so much fun to follow along!

  5. WE remember the Bear Parade very well. We hope to see lots more of all the bears in posts to come. But yes, you must be sure to include the canine pups too. Great pic of K.

  6. That cinnamon bear has a luxurious coat! I'm interested in the further fall activity that you've recorded. I hope you got pics of some current occupants! K is queen of sunrise.

  7. Incredible photos!
    Jeepers that bears eye is something..
    All these photos are total awsome. We hope you get more,, please be safe.
    And K & R, very smart,, we must see photos of them.

  8. This post deserves a chunk of time. I'll be back. But K, thanks for insisting on a shot for your fans!!

    Only the dogs in blog land travel with their own personal photographers!

  9. Wow! Those are some awesome shots!


  10. I love the wildlife photo's! It's always so interesting to see them in their natural habitat!

    K, of course, looks beautiful in the morning sun!


  11. Bears and bobcats. Can it get any better ?

  12. Incredible photos, as usual. Confess that the favorite is the close up of K's eye: there's often a starburst effect in the close ups of her eyes. Marvelous. Mama loves the bear photos; didn't know that black bears and brown bears [which don't look like grizzlies] share the same range. Astounded the deer would hang around bear scent, but deer must be able to tell the scent is old.

    Thanks for our armchair tour.

    Jed & Abby

  13. After being away from blogging for a while, your photos are wonderful to come back to. K seems to be glowing!

  14. FANASTIC post and pics!!!! I'd love to find a den and set a camera. I'm surprised also that the deer would go anywhere near it.

  15. That bear den is a popular place! Talk about a great spot for your camera Wow! Luved the K cameo :)

    Waggin at ya,

  16. Simply amazing pictures, KB! What a privilege to be privvy to all that. Thank you!
    Sending lotsaluv

  17. Your pictures are always SO fun to look at. I absolutely love wildlife photos!!!
    -Corbin's momma, Jenn

  18. That's wild there are SO many bears in your forest. I guess I assumed a few, but this is like a cast of thousands. Very neat.

  19. This is truly awesome to follow. I can't believe how close the bears come to the camera. Since you aren't there then nothing serious can happen. Just really remarkable. The detail is so important when telling a story and your technique is precise and to the point.

  20. Wow!! That wildlife camera really paid off! Scarface is such a perfect name. I wonder how he/she got that mark. I'm glad K insisted she be included in the post. She's striking, as always.

  21. yes, i sure could look at bears and cubs a lot, but i could look at k in the sun rays all day! work of art!


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