A Bear’s Life

As the days get shorter and colder, I enjoy the comforts of home more and more. Meanwhile, outside, the natural world follows its own rhythms:

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Mom and her two cubs have been feasting in the oat field for over a month, now. They follow a distinct path out of the woods at about nine o’clock in the morning and sometimes spend as many as four hours chomping away in a twenty meter radius. They are like very hungry cows, grazing and seldom raising their heads. Occasionally, a large black male also feeds in the same area but never at the same time. A few days ago, Gary photographed an encounter between the two groups.

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The female emerged first while her cubs watched from the bushes. After about fifteen minutes, the two cubs ventured forth and began feeding next to mom. One cub was clearly more independent than the other, roaming confidently away on its own and settling in to eat. Their peaceful chomping lasted about ten minutes.

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Mom’s head came up as she tested the air, having caught the scent of the male who was steadily advancing on them. Both cubs became alert, then at their mother’s grunted instruction, sped out of the field and up a birch tree.

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The male ambled closer, his slack lips indicating the noises he was making; meanwhile, the mother kept him pinned with her gaze, vocalizing as well.

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Finally, he got too close and mom charged; he wheeled away and bulleted towards the bushes. Both adults disappeared into the trees and tall grasses.

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About four minutes later, mom reappeared at the edge of the field, where she trundled over to the birch where her cubs clung. Eventually, the cubs climbed down and joined their mother. The male did not reappear.

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Two weeks after this encounter, Mom and her cubs are still preparing for winter.

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