A year in the life of a bear is fascinating and if we hadn’t come here I would never have given this a thought but we have planned a walk, and bears are a very real threat. At every point we are encouraged to get Bear spray, a Bear warning bell, and at the very least be ‘Bear Aware’.
Firstly though I’ll tell you some stuff that I found interesting and I know you can google this but it will be much more interesting hearing it from me…Ahem.
Bears reach breeding age at about 5 years old and won’t be ‘receptive’ for another 4 years or so after having Cubs. Although they mate in May or June, gestation is delayed until November or December when she enters her den for the winter. Only then does a foetus begin to develop. Even more amazing than that is that if food is low and she doesn’t have enough body fat, the embryo is reabsorbed so the bear uses reserves for herself. Very clever, but being I’m well covered that wouldn’t happen with me.
The new Cubs are born after JUST six to eight weeks, naked and blind and they suckle on their sleeping mother for 3-6 months, weaning at around 6-9 months but stay with her for another 2-3 years, before being chased away by the males during mating season. Poor babies 😔
When they den during these colder months, their body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate slows, so as to conserve energy. Urine is repurposed into new proteins, while water from fat reserves and the recycled urine prevents dehydration. Such clever use of resources!
We learn how to tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear, which can also be white. And what their scat or poo looks like. Really!
Now we learn what to do in case we meet a bear and I have to say it’s a little confusing. You need to decide if a bear is defensive, sees you as a threat, is stressed, agitated or vocal….then try not to appear threatening. Speak calmly. If he approaches, stand your ground but keep calm. If he makes contact play dead and wait for him to leave. Spread your legs lying face down. Arms up behind your head to protect your neck and head. That way if he attacks you may lesson damage to your brains and spreading your legs means he will have difficulty turning you over and ripping your guts out. Gulp!
….but if he is non-defensive, he may be curious or testing his dominance and worst scenario, predatory. Speak firmly. Move calmly away, NEVER RUN. If he follows, stop and stand your ground. Shout and make yourself big. Try to intimidate the bear. Climb a tree if you’re able. Gulp again! Given the trees here don’t have side branches I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have a hope in hell doing that. As we walk away we recite the plan to each other… but we’re pretty sure we’re not going to actually meet a bear. I mean they probably don’t come this close to town. Do they?
We check the bear sightings at the info centre and there were two sightings at the edge of the camp ground yesterday. Big gulp!
We ask Nola who owns the BnB we are staying at. “Well not usually but we had one in that tree there in the front yard a couple of years ago,” as she points out the window and as our eyes widen she tells us they have to call the warden and they come and tranquillise them and let them fall into a net before they helicopter them many many miles away as the last thing you want is a cocky bear that’s not scared of humans. Big Gulp again.
This is a photo off a poster. Cheeky bear…Ren said “Gee, imagine you’re just all settled up a tree and then you get tranquillised and wake up a million miles away. I said “yeah. He probably rubs his head and says ‘man , that was some crazy shit I was eating last night.’
Still wanna go for a walk?