Saturday, November 6, 2010

Black Bears Of The Vermilon River

Black bears are extremely common to the area attracted by the edible berries in the forest (see earlier post). They do come to town particularly towards the end of the summer season, when the berries begin to give out.They are then attracted by garbage, and there are two restaurants in town who share a grease bin. The locals also tend to think a green garbage bag is ample protection from bears. Black bears begin to think of hibernation as soon as July and must add about 30% of their weight prior to hibernation. So the pressure for food is fairly intense.
Bears are hunted in the area and further north in a peculiarly cruel way. They are baited in the fall when they are trying to get ready to hibernate. Food to attract them is hung in a tree, and the brave hunter sits in a tree stand waiting for the bear. The hunter is of course escorted to the area by some local know as trapper Dan, or Harry or whatever.
The top photo is a bit of a dicey situation as he is a young bear trying to make it on his own for the first time. Mother bears keep the young males longer because the male bears will kill them as territory interlopers, but all bears have to go on their own eventually.Bears have poor eyesight, and the bear in photo 2 is trying to figure out what we are. There was no breeze to carry any scent and apart from the camera sound we were quiet. Number 3 is just after I got the camera, I was trying to shoot a bird in a tree, and I should have been more aware because the song birds had gone silent, but I had seen a hawk earlier on. Bears despite their bulk are masters at moving through thick bush silently. Boomer was not with me or he would have alerted me by steping between me and the bear. As soon as I moved the bears (there was a cub with the mother) disappeared, but she spooked me and the shot is out of focus. I don't always take Boom as sometimes it's just too hot for him, and I don't take him  in hunting season as he looks too much like a wolf.
As I said earlier this is not a park or sanctuary, it is a wilderness forest.

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