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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Bear Facts

Yesterday, many of you asked about the mother bear and cubs who are in the den where I have trail cameras. I haven't been to check the cameras in about 7 weeks.

Starting in early March, I felt worried that the bear family might choose to lie in front of the den on nice days. I was "worried" about that because a visit from me might be a disaster in that situation. There is a chance, albeit remote, that the mother bear would flee from me and somehow get separated from her cubs. For that reason, I decided to put off any further den visits until after I felt certain that the family had departed the den.

Most years, I start to see bears on Black Bear Trail around the end of April or the start of May. Last year, the first bear appeared on May 2. I believe it was a young female - too young to have cubs yet.

However, I never see sows with "cubs of the year" until late May. Specifically, it's between May 26 and the end of May. A few years ago, a family appeared on May 26. It was a mother and two tiny cubs.

Last year, a family appeared on May 28. In the photo below, you can see the mother bear, with engorged teats, marking a tree. If you look up and to her left, you can see two cubs climbing a big tree.

As she continued to mark the tree, you can see the black cub watching her from the tree. The brown cub's paws are barely visible in the very top of the photo.

A couple of minutes later, the mother bear passed the camera again with both cubs in tow. As an aside, this is the family that somehow got separated when the black cub hurt his leg very badly last summer. After about 6 weeks on his own, the black cub was reunited with the family.

If I'm going to be very conservative about the bear den, these photos lead me to believe that I shouldn't go check the cams until late May. However, it is known that bear families "lie low" for weeks after leaving their dens and probably don't go to heavily traveled bear routes until much later.  Therefore, it's likely that both of these families left their dens around early to mid-May.

In any case, I probably won't be checking my "den cams" until a month from now. I might consider going in the middle of a big blizzard (when the family is likely to be hunkered down in the den) but I need to check with some experts first.

That means that we will get a TON of footage all at once, at the end of the bear hibernation season. We have something special to look forward to!!!!

A couple of you also asked about R. When one of us is with him, he's doing very well. However, his "separation anxiety" hasn't let up. I just canceled some plans to go to town this week because I'd prefer to stay with him as much as I can. He howls and barks, generally working himself into a frenzy, when left alone.

He got a new bandage. This one is blue! The surgeon thought that the incision looked great. The stitches come out at the end of this week. After that, he won't have the stiff bandage so I predict he'll start using the limb more than he has been.
A last bit of news - we have a big storm heading our way. It's supposed to hit late this week with 2-3 feet of snow. Springtime comes very late to our mountain. Sigh.


  1. We will wait patiently for the bears!
    Poor R. I hope the anxiety goes away when he is feeling better.

  2. I can't wait to see the bear photos. And I am so glad R is doing good.

  3. Thanks for the news on the bears. We will try to be patient:) It is just so exciting to follow along with your cameras.

    Hope R's anxiety is just a temporary thing and he will do better once his leg is feeling better. We bet he will be happy to get that stiff bandage off.

  4. Love the bears! Glad R is doing well. :)

  5. R! Relax, dude! Because of you and Shyla, I have learned that command, so now I can use it on YOU!!


  6. R is looking so much happier, maybe a change of bandage, a little less tight maybe? and lots of close time with either of you, I knew this would be a VERY time consuming few weeks, we had the same with one of our cats, confined in a cage for almost 2 months. Let your spring arrive and the bears be safe.

  7. What a wonderful shot of the bright eyes!!

    Looking forward to a summer filled with bear den footage!!

  8. We will be patient to see the bears! thanks for the update on R, He looks good - eyes bright. it will be good to get the stitches out
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  9. I love the bear pictures... it's hard to believe that they are wild animals and no cuddly teddy bears when they look so cute :o) POTP to you R, I'm glad the surgeron had good news and I hope for more good news when the stitches are gone...

  10. That's so fascinating about the bears! I hope they are all okay!

    Poor R! Separation anxiety sucks! That's so sweet that you cancelled your plans to hang out with him! I really hope he feels better soon! <3

  11. You have the most beautiful sparkly eyes, R! Get ready for more fresh snow, Shyla!

  12. We're glad R is healing well! Might his pain meds cause the anxiety? We love the Bear family photos!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  13. Oh KB,,, We love to hear about your bears,,,,! And we want them to be safe.
    Can you believe there is "a spring bear season" here- for hunters. It just makes us sick.
    R is looking sparkly eyed,,, I have feeling he will feel better soon,

  14. that beautiful face is so sad,, love the baby bears and mom.... hope that blue thing can come off soon. R probably feels trapped alone because he can't move to protect himself.


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