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Friday, May 23, 2014

Dog Bells and Bears

Many of you have commented in the past about the bells on our dogs' collars. We first started having our dogs wear bells after Puppy K met a bear. And, she chased the bear out of the forest directly toward us. Fortunately, the bear veered away from us, and K didn't. So, the incident ended there. However, we decided that it would be kind to the wildlife to have our dogs wear bells that would warn all the animals, not just the bears, that we were moving in their direction.
The bear action around here gets pretty intense in the summer. It's just starting to heat up now. Here's a series of photos that made me smile.

First, a youngish bear sniffed a bear tree. This bear might be "Socks", the young bear who we followed 3 years ago after "seeing" her be driven off by her mother at the start of mating season (via trail camera). She literally walked in circles for days on end, passing my trails cameras repeatedly. Then, she disappeared for most of her first summer on her own. We saw her again last summer, and her dark legs ("socks") were fading. I suspect that this is the same bear, whose legs are getting more cinnamon every year (I would bet that Cinnamom is her mother!).
After sniffing the tree that other bears have marked in past years, she decided to do a dance, a tree-marking!!! I love seeing this. Look at how she pulled down a higher branch to rub on her head, so her scent would be on more of the tree!
After marking the tree, she sniffed the rock. You can see her face looks a little mottled - as if she's lost some fur from it. It's quite common for bears to get a mild case of mange while hibernating because their immune systems are not as active as usual. Apparently, their bodies win the battle with the mange soon after they become active in the spring.
Then, she departed.
Just 15 minutes later, another young bear arrived at the same tree. S/he stood up to sniff the scent left by Socks. This bear's coat looks gorgeous!
After sniffing, he put his nose to the ground and started following Socks, as you can see in the next photo.
About ten minutes later, he came running back at top speed. He's in a full gallop in this photo. I suspect that Socks wasn't happy to see him and drove him away.
As you'll see in the future, these two bears are small compared to the ones who will be marking these trees when mating season begins in earnest. Soon, the mature bears will be on this trail, trying to find each other for mating season.

I'm glad our dogs wear bells now. We've never had another encounter like Puppy K's bear chase since we started having our dogs wear bells! I think it's good for our dogs, preventing them from getting hurt. But, it's also good for the bears - because our dogs could cause harm to a cub (like causing him to fall while trying to climb a tree to escape them), especially in the early part of the summer.


  1. Wow, those photos are great> i would have bells on the dogs too, If I were you.

  2. Nice that you know the different bears. Its just like my mooses. I Think its very good of you to have bells on the duo. You have big animals who could be a treath
    Have a nice weekend!

  3. Those young bears are beautiful-but I like seeing them on the camera pics vs up close & personal. Hope you are feeling better friend; have a incredible weekend!

  4. I do hope all is well at your home, and the bells, are you able to do a video with sound, so we know what the bells sound like? Great idea, and the young bear, fur, thick and glossy, his hibernation must have been a good one, and Socks, defending what might well be " his own area". Hugs, Jean.

  5. It is so amazing to see those bears and the bell idea sure rings true! Soory, couldn't resist.

  6. Enjoyed the bears, as always. Hope all of you have a good holiday weekend.

  7. How funny! I have been noticing the bells on your dogs and thought it would be really wise to get one for Behr. I just bought a bell today, and then came home to see your post about this :)

    It's also funny that I just happened to post yesterday about a very close bear encounter (part 2 scheduled to release later today). Very timely, since the bears are indeed becoming more active right now.

    Behr's mom :)

  8. If the bells work, wear them.

    Love seeing those bears and reading your descriptions of what to look for.

    XXXOOO Bella & Roxy

  9. Wow, drama in bear world! Great series of shots, KB :) I didn't know that about the mange...very interesting! Glad their immune systems can knock it back.
    It's bear time here, too, and I finally, reluctantly, belatedly took my bird feeder down this week. The very next morning, one of the squirrels (who is not welcome at the bird feeder in the first place!) was so perturbed by it's absence, he climbed up the side of my house and stared at me over the windowsill in my bedroom..."Hey! You there! Where's the sunflower seed dispenser?!"
    I hope there won't be bears asking the same question this year.

  10. Wow- your bear photos are fantastic!
    The bells are a wonderful idea.

  11. Thanks for the bear photos and explanations—how cool. We suspected that was why your dogs wear bells-smart choice for sure!

  12. Wonderful information! Just love all the trail photos and your duo is looking as beautiful as ever!!

  13. Wow! Those bears do look healthy. And the duo is gorgeous as usual. :)

  14. You and R look fabulous with bells on, Shyla!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  15. It makes my concern over loose dogs seem mighty trivial. lol.

  16. KB, I love how you look out for the wildlife while keeping your dogs happy. These photos tell a beautiful and impressive story. Bears are so resilient. Your trail cameras give us a precious glimpse into their lives.

  17. Just loving seeing the bears again. That must have been quite the scary event with Puppy K. The bells are a great idea. Hope you are doing better - think of you often.

  18. I must say, the bears look pretty cute to me! :)

  19. Gorgeous photos!

  20. I just love looking at your photos! That bear's coat is amazing! I can certainly understand why you have the dogs wear bells! Safer for everybody! Hope you are feeling well today!

  21. He now knows not to mess with an uninterested female! LOL


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