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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rain, bears, and bobcats!

This early summer has been extraordinary in the sheer quantity of rain that has fallen. Usually, summer days follow a predictable pattern of sunshine in the morning and thunder storms in the afternoon. This year, it's been raining all day long, including during my morning bike ride.
Shyla doesn't seem to mind because it's so nice and cool when it's raining. However, I actually get cold during our rides. It was 48° and raining this morning. The world is soaked!
I am wondering if this crazy weather is part of the reason why the bears are having trouble finding natural food. I don't remember any other year when there were NO berries on any buffalo berry bushes in July. Usually, Buffalo Berries are a staple for our bears at this time of year. I feel so sorry for the bears.

All that I can do is keep watching the bears and learning more about their behavior. It seems that I understand them a little better each year so I can be more effective in talking with neighbors about why the bears are behaving a certain way.

For example, when I tell people that our biggest bear, Tiny, has lived in our area for at least 5 years without any complaints from people about him until this food-starved year, it seems as if they begin to understand that he's simply a hungry bear and not some vicious monster.

I believe that, as a community, we need to do everything in our power to help the bears make it through this year without being killed for bad behavior. E.g., lock down the trash, lock all house windows and doors, lock all car doors, and make birdfood and compost inaccessible to bears. Did you know that compost is poisonous to all mammals, including our dogs and bears? Leaving it unprotected is a terribly selfish act.

I feel so passionately about protecting our bears because I've been watching the bears via my trail cameras for a half a decade. It makes me feel much more empathy for them than most people.

Although bear mating season is winding down, my trail camera captured some fascinating footage of a young female bear marking a tree, and then a bobcat marking the same tree about a day later.

Bears mark trees by rubbing against them with their backs and often urinating at the same time.
Usually, bobcats mark things closer to the ground. In this photo, a bobcat is rubbing his face on the rock and ground at the base of a bear marking tree.
To my surprise, I captured footage of a bobcat marking a bear marking tree by standing on his hind legs and rubbing his face as high on the tree as he could. As you'll see in the video, a bobcat stretched himself out to be very tall to mark the same tree as the bear. I have never seen anything like this before!!!!

You can watch the video here or at Youtube.

I love learning new things about our wildlife. And, in the case of bears, knowing them better helps me to advocate for protecting them more effectively.


  1. That Bobcat really got in to it.

  2. I had no idea that the bears were going hungry. Praying their situation improves

  3. Wow! I love learning about your wild neighbors! It's always so fascinating! Also, the wet photos of Shyla are so cute!

  4. Great video. When mom saw the photo of the bear, the song Kung Fu Fighting came to mind. She said it was the way he was standing with his arms up.

    Aroo to you,

  5. So fascinating to watch them. That bobcat was determined to mark that tree everywhere he could reach:)

  6. That is amazing footage. Who ever thought a Bobcat would work so hard to mark the tree so high? Wonder if the other Bobcats will notice anything above ground level. Amazing.

    Hope you get some warmer weather soon. It is July and 48 is chilly when it's raining.

  7. I'm alwaays in awe of what you capture. We have had an astounding amount of rain here this summer.

  8. Your weather is so wet- and ours is so dry. We had the dryest and hottest June and now going into July.
    The creeks are going dry,, and we feel sad for the bears too- because where can they drink water??? And the other animals.
    We feel like you do KB.
    Those are amazing photos,, very amazing

  9. Oh, where was his step ladder? This is amazing, and wonderful to think that the two animals can both find and mark the same tree. Beautiful markings, the bob cats are my favourites of all your trail cam photos.

  10. A bear was spotted in the area that Bert and I go camping. It worries me that they are having to travel into areas so close to humans now to get food. I worry because the people around here are not nearly as patient or understanding. The firs thing they do is panic and I fear they will react without thinking.

  11. Could you plant some raspberry and blueberry bushes along their trails? To help them savage?

    I was thinking of you this week, as we had a rare black bear sighting in our town. It's been over 20 years since a bear was spotted in our area. (We live in an urban area near some big cities)

  12. Seems unusual that the bobcat would mark a bear tree.

    Hope the bears can make it through in safety.

  13. Wow - that bobcat was really getting into the marking thing!

  14. We agree with being more aware of the wildlife and doing things to prevent them from having the opportunity to be a threat to humans. They were there first! Good for you for sharing this information and as always, we love your photos and videos.

  15. My goodness, the bears and the big cats are amazing!!!

  16. I hope the bears can find food without getting around people. I read an article the other day that they are considering delisting the grizzly from the endangered list. I think that's a way bad idea. We must be in the same rain pattern, we are having lots here too.

  17. Good for you for trying to educate people. I hope they all make it through the year, especially Tiny who I now feel like I know.

    I didn't know that about compost. Thanks for setting record straight.

  18. The bears are lucky to have you as their advocate.
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  19. Yes, most bears don't have problems until people cause them. Then the bear suffers. We need more people like yous!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  20. It has been a most unusual summer weather wise. One day it's 90 degrees and the next raining and cold. The smoke from all up the fires up north has really impacted our skies-hoping yours aren't as hazy. Today it has been raining all morning, looks like it might clear up and I'm wishing it would. Know it helps the fire danger, but I'm ready for days that follow our typical pattern. I imagine the wild life are ready for a typical season too, with lots of berries and food.

  21. We believe the weather impacts the animals feeding the way it effects marine life here.
    Lily & Edward

  22. This is one of my favorite nature blogs and I miss it when I'm too sick to keep up. But anyhoo... The bob cat thing makes a lot of sense actually in a weird way. Obviously scent is in their paws... but to stretch himself out tall, i would guess it is to appear like a big animal. Believe it or not, i see this in LOKI. He LOVES to poop on HIGH things, tree stumps, bushes, etc... And I have to wonder if it's some sort of statment "I'm HUGE." As just an observer and obviously someone who knows NOTHING about wildlife behavior, I would make that assumption as well about a bob cat who did that with the tree...

    We have bob cats too, but I rarely see them. I saw one once on our own property (nitwit trail) before we did a bunch of clearning. It was before I was diagnosed with Lyme, I was coming home from a "canicross style run" (where the dogs wear harnesses and are hooked to a belt and we run with them in front)... anyway, i saw the cat before they did and grabbed the leads in my hand first, then yelled to the cat to get lost. Good thing or with THAT set up, i would have been dragged to the ground. harnesses don't have much control when running too and at that point my dogs would have not been so good at listening but they'd stop at the point of me falling, but still...

    It was awesome to see those EARS from a distance with the tuft coming out of them. BEAUTIFUL. I don't see them as much close to the house anymore (we did a ton of clearning of the junk trees, keeping the redwoods tho) but I think they walk through our property based on the scat that i see. It isn't coyotee scat...

  23. I didn't know that bobcats marked like that. Totally cool!

  24. That really stinks about the bears not having any food!! Has it been too rainy or cold for the berries to grow?


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