Thursday, 22 September 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 20: Bear dens and the snack bar

We are going to look at the the two places a bear loves best in this diary update. Bed and the snack bar.

In the back of my mind I have always wondered, where do all the local bears hibernate? 

While I was in the Canadian Rockies two weeks ago I picked up a copy of Dave Taylor's - Black Bears, A Natural History (a must read for any black bear fan and it is available through amazon Taylor/dp/1550418491/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316750343&sr=8-1) and after reading the chapter on dens it got me even more curious about the local bears and where they den for the winter.

As we get into fall (aka autumn where I come from) curiosity got the better of me so I went exploring in the local mtn hoping to maybe locate something that resembled a Bear's den. I read somewhere that they like to den in tree cavities in old growth forests.The book explained that bears dens are not easy to find but from looking at the photos I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for. Bear dens must be dry, away from danger and fairly cramped. The reason for them being cramped is that if there is too much open air around the bear it will loose body heat.

I spotted a number of dens on my hike and wanted to share the following photos with you. I think I found what I was looking for.


Did you know:  Black Bears den in a number of places including, under a brush pile, tree roots and beneath rock ledges. Bears have also been known to den in tree tops. There was a den found in Louisiana over 30 metres above ground in a tree.

The following photo shows a healthy skunk cabbage patch that could be another reason bears den in this area. This would be the ideal local snack bar when they wake up in spring.

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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 20: Notorious B.I.G

Welcome back to Black Bear Diaries 2011. Summer has come to a close. I do hope everyone had a super summer. I spent August and early September enjoying myself and spending time with my little brother who came to visit from the UK. I haven't stopped following the bears who have also been enjoying themselves, feasting on the berry crop. I am sure we have all put on a little weight after the BBQ season but hopefully not as much as this bear, see below.

This is the largest black bear that visits the local area. He is a very large male even before he starts preparing for hibernation. This is only the second time I have seen him. The first encounter was around June last year when I glanced in my rear view mirror to see this huge black shape walk across the road behind me. My wife and I looked at each other and said simply said "WOW". Locals share stories about a large bear that comes by now and again and sightings are rare. The photo I share below is from the second time I met this large bear. This time I wasn't sat in my car, but on foot.

Last Saturday my wife, bother, and I took a walk around the local area. My brother was excited to see bears. Growing up my little brother would scare himself more than me when he would tell me bear stories. My Dad would return from business trips to the Pacific Northwest with bear attack books. We would read them before bed and fill our imagination with wild tales of bears attacking hikers and campers in the woods. It was only fitting then that the last bear he saw, during his visit, was this brute. We estimated this guy to be somewhere close to 350-400lbs.

Did you know: Most black bears weigh about the same as an average human male. Typically, a black bear will fall between 160 and 220lbs. A good-sized male will approach 250lbs and few can reach close to 500lbs. Male black bears will reach their maximum height and length when they are seven or eight years old. The biggest black bear ever recorded was in Manitoba, Canada and weighed 803lbs. Males tend to be one-third larger then females but there is such a variety in size that size alone is not a reliable way to tell the sex.

This big guy will certainly not starve this winter. He wasn't aggressive and tolerated us walking by him. We used a onlookers parked car as cover while we walked passed.
He just wanted to eat the berries.

Photo courtesy of Neil Douglas

My first front page...

Coming up next: A look inside a bear den.

To see what keeps me busy behind the camera besides black bears, please visit my new portfolio at:
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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Black Bear Diaries Part 19: In the press

Hello everyone,

I apologise for not posting an update since the end of July but be patient because I will be back very soon with diary updates.

Until I return, I want to share this with you all. While I was away on vacation last week I found out that a photo of mine made the front page of the local newspaper: See photo and article here:

Thanks again for all your support and comments.


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