I'm home again, back with my family, who I missed while I was in Bear Land. Apparently, my ShyBear missed me too. She kept pulling out my clothing to lie on, and even chose to gnaw on a few things that smelled like me. I guess that's the ultimate canine compliment but I now need to replace a few chewed belongings!
This black bear is a mother who had two cubs high in a nearby tree as we observed her. As we watched, her attention continually swiveled back toward her cubs, as shown in this photo. She seemed to be listening for noises from the cubs while scenting the air for danger. She didn't view us as danger but seemed worried about other sources, like the sound of ATV's in the distance.
As we watched her, a new sound hummed in the distance. She stood up on her hind limbs to look for the source. Standing up is not a threatening posture for a bear. Rather, it indicates interest and curiosity.
The most amazing part of this is that I never felt even vaguely afraid while I was near the bears. Bears are generally timid, and if you behave reasonably around these research bears, they never show signs of nervousness. They aren't the "killers" that the media likes to portray them as. Rather, they get scared easily so "good human behavior" involves not making fast movements or loud noises. You also always leave the bears an open route to move away from you if they want to.
I'll write more about the experience because I saw multiple bear personalities in different situations over my days in Bear Land. I learned so much about bear behavior, and I expanded my knowledge of the signs that bears leave in the forest. Indeed, today, when I checked my trail cameras, I spotted some bear marking signs that I'd never noticed before (I also saw that the bears had been parading past my cameras in honor of the course I was taking!). Pretty cool!