Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Checking out a bear den

We went a spent a sunny, yet slightly chilly fall day with our friend Mark Vail out near his cabin. We went to help him with some of his harvesting chores, digging potatoes, pulling garden beds of spent lettuce, and helping eat brocali shoots and cabbage leaves. But before we got to the garden we took a long round about walk through the neighborhood, checking out the wildlife wonders along the way: like the healthy Aspen tree that grew with hole in it; or the canal that the beavers dug from one pond, to what they hoped would be another pond; or trees were the bears had rubbed up against and left strands of fur behind; and even feeding grey jays out of our hands! But the highlight was being able to check out a black bear

den that was used a few winters ago (apparently he/ she was Marks closest neighbor......) The den was under the root ball of a tipped over spruce tree. The tree was at about a 45 degree angle, and the roots were still it the ground, but creating an arch that the bear finished digging out to create a nice hidy hole. The den was lined with spruce needles,

that were gathered from a tree about 15 feet away and drug over to the den. Mark described how in the spring he could see the tell tale trail of needles from tree to the den on top of the bushes, which showed that the bear denned up after the snows had come. The den went in about 6 feet from the entrance and down maybe a couple of feet. I poked my head in with a headlamp to get a good look, but Owen went all the way in! He declared it a cozy space, a nice bear size depression to curl up in. We tried imaging what it would be like to stay in

there for 6 months. We wondered how often a bear changes its body position during the winter, or how dry it really stayed in the den. We wondered how many bears have their dens collapse on them, and how they probably get smarter about how and where they build their dens as they get older. The entry hole seemed small for a bear, but was no problem for an Owen!

And no he didn't get to feed a black bear from his hand, but he got to feed the grey jays!

No comments: