The Big Cute Bruin
On May 31, 2013, during a very early morning drive to work, Linda sent me a quick email saying she had seen a very good looking, healthy, black bear on the side of the highway up the hill south of our Fox Creek Wilderness bridge. I answered and said, 'he's coming this way' !
Yesterday afternoon while on our way home we met Kirk along our 5 km dirt road. As usual we exchanged stories and the ones about bears are often the most exciting. Even in an area as wild as ours where all the bigger ungulates and bigger predators still roam freely, seeing a bear, black or grizzly, is always a major event. 'There's this German tourist at the cabins (by Lake Laberge) he said
he saw a black bear.. guess he's heading this way (toward our area)'. 'We have to be careful', Linda said, 'sometimes I walk to the solar panels early very early in the morning without ever looking around'.
We thought nothing of it. We have resident bears, both black and grizzlly, so 'business as usual'.
As we consumed the last few meters of the hill at the top of the driveway I saw a transparent grocery plastic bag on the side of the driveway. Flashback!...I quietly thought, that's the one from the compost pile I placed into a white garbage pail next to the porch... the wind? The pail near the porch was toppled over...I said, 'the bear was here!' But no immediate tracks near the pail nor the porch.
I investigated further walking toward the compost with my eyes glued to the ground, (as we often do to see who paid us a visit either during the night or day) while Linda went to turn the solar panels 30m (100') from the house to catch the last sun rays which were still quite hot at 6pm.
As soon as I reached the edge of the trail that leads to the compost I yelled to Linda, 'yep! he was here!' Black bear tracks were leading from the compost trail toward the house. I did not go any further, turned around and walked toward the house, by that time Linda had gotten back from the panels and was in between the house and the trail that goes to the panels. When I raised my head to look at her I spotted a big, fluffy, big cheeked, black bear torso, cinnamon phase, about 9m (30' or so feet) behind her, pickabooing from behind the small ridge at the end of the lawn where the raspberry plants are. There are pretty bears and not so pretty bears, this one could very well have run for North of 60* Queen/King Bear.
I said " Stop....walk slowly towards me..' She knew I had spotted something. The bear had its ears perked and bright eyed staring at us. I then said, 'there's a bear to your left,' she looked but could not see him being obstructed by the deck staircase. I said 'backup a bit ..then walk slowly to the house'. She saw it and walked up with me to the house.
I closed the door and ran upstairs for the camera. But when I looked he was no longer there. I was flustered to have missed him, but when looking out from the large office picture window I saw his big, furry butt, swaying from side to side, slowly and peacefully walking near the compost, inspect it again and slowly walk to the cutline and out of sight. Meanwhile, as I was looking at him, I was trying to have proof of my sighting, as bear stories go!! but my camera would not fire 'cause it could not focus...I had left my 70-200mm in manual focus mode from the last time I used it...so did not even get a butt picture!!
Reconstruction of the events as i think they transcribed: he heard our car driving up the driveway when he was inspecting the pail near the porch, ran along the slight downhill past the lawn, but stopped short from disappearing down the bank beyond the lawn.
He watched us as we went our separate ways until I spotted him, quite disconcerting when I think of it. After that, he must have run uphill (in our direction, daring of him!) past the house while we were farting around in the house, and slowed down when there were no longer humans in the way, 'cause that's the way he came and that's the way he was going to go back.
He gave me the sign about that when I saw him sway the head from side to side while we were looking at him. Similar incident once in Jasper National Park along railway tracks when a blackie behaved the same way, swaying his head because we were in his way.
So, now I need to be with someone when going out there 'cause this one seems too friendly, or too unafraid, for comfort. Oh, I think he ate all the watermelon and cantaloupe peels I threw on the compost yesterday morning.
Another lovely, happy ending, bear story!!
PS. The bear image ( can't have a story like that without an image), that accompanies this post is one of a similar cinnamon phase black bear, but not as 'pretty' as the one we encountered.
PSSS. The above is a nice bear story, but having seen the same bear a year later (fall 2014) and in the same spot I wonder how I could have misidentified it. It was a big one year old grizzly, now grown to one of the most beatiful and big grizzly bears I have seen in this area. This time I have a short video of it inspecting my compost...will post in due time...but the way this post is going....will probably be in quite a while!
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