A male, not the same one as marked a tree earlier this month, walked past a broken bear marking tree and toward another. Notice that he has no ear tags, unlike the one who we saw previously. That means that he hasn't been getting into birdfeeders or garbage.
He then walked about a mile and passed another of my cameras. I made a flipbook video of his antics which you can watch below or at Youtube.
The spot where he marked is the same spot where I captured photos of the bear sow and cubs the other day. Pip asked why a male bear would harm cubs. I don't think that anyone truly knows the answer to that question but some scientists have guessed that a male bear will kill cubs to send the mothers into estrus. That would make the sow available to mate with him and give him a chance to pass his genes to a new generation.
Also, Pip asked about how long bear cubs stay with their mothers. A female bear mates in May-June, and the fertilized eggs stay in "suspended animation" until she goes into hibernation in late fall. If she's fat and healthy, the fertilized egg will implant in the wall of the uterus while she's in the den. The cubs are born in January. Then, they stay with their mom for about 17 months. They spend their first summer, fall, and winter with her. The yearling cubs and mother emerge from hibernation together. In late May when the sow's hormones tell her that it's mating season, she separates from the yearling cubs so that she can find a mate. She spends the rest of that summer alone and drives away her yearling cubs if she sees them lurking too close to her.
Female cubs will spend their lives in the same area as their mother, carving out a part of their mother's territory as their own. For that reason, I think that we may see the female cub from the den that I monitored in early 2010 cruising for a mate in our area this mating season (that "cub" is now more than 2 years old and is probably sexually mature). In contrast, male cubs travel far away to establish independent territories so we won't see the male cub cruising our paths.
If the bear action calms down, I still want to post more about our desert trip. For the moment, we are enjoying what feels almost like spring here. K and I have been enjoying our mountain bike rides and hikes together while R is resting, trying to let his paw heal. Thanks for all of your good wishes for him. I think that he's recovering well - and the remaining big questions are how fast we'll be able to eradicate the nailbed/bone infection that had already started and whether the nail will grow back even vaguely normally. Only time will tell.
From the desert (where there are no bears but there are lots of beautiful vistas)...