Since being at Lab Valley, I've been trying to find time to explore. In particular, I want to figure out where our large secretive mammals spend their time.
Exploring involves riding my mountain bike on rarely traveled trails. Some of them are a fair distance away. As I ride, my eyes are constantly scanning for signs of bears or mountain lions. Back near our old home, I found that mountain lions often used routes that went near bear marking trees. So, finding a bear marking tree is a double win!
I found one trail not shown on any maps. It paralleled a small intermittent spring. It was steep so I had to push my bike up parts of it. As I arrived near the top of the trail, I started to see trees that bears had marked in the past. They had broken limbs, broken off tops, and scratch marks on them. Then, as I walked, I spotted a very heavily marked tree with bear fur stuck to its bark. Nearby, there were scrapes made by bobcats and mountain lions.
I went back the next day to plant a camera. Then, I waited with anticipation. I thought that there was a chance that I wouldn't see any bears there until next spring because fall is usually not a hot time for marking trees. I was wrong. Within 2 days, my cam recorded video of a bear marking the tree and a mountain lion sniffing next to it!
The bear has a cool blaze on his chest - it's sort of like an upside down triangle. We should be able to identify him in the future if this tree is a favorite of his! It's a short video.