This was one of the last photos I captured of a bear this fall. She is so fat that she looks pregnant! Bears don't actually become pregnant before they're in their dens so her big belly is fat. The fertilized eggs from mating season back in May and June remain in suspended animation throughout the summer. They implant in the uterus early in hibernation only if the sow is fat and healthy enough to support cubs.
This looks like a young sow based on her height but she looks fat enough to have cubs this winter! In this photo, she's carefully sniffing a bear marking tree.
Two days later, a similarly short sow marked a tree a few miles to the east of the one shown in the first photo. I know that this second series of photos is of "Dot", a young sow who seems to be taking over the territory of our matriarch bear who disappeared over last winter. In all likelihood, Dot is a daughter of that sow.
She was very intent on marking the tree thoroughly.
After marking it, she turned around and sniffed it. She sure has a healthy shape for a bear about to hibernate!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for our bears. They fascinate and amuse me all summer long. I hope that "our" local bears have a safe winter, and that we see them again in the spring. And I'd be super thankful if they had cubs with them when we see them again!