September 22, 2012

A Tough Season for Bears

The bear that knocked over the camera, I suspect,

"Black body" — a black bear in infrared light.
Two scout-camera bear photos from late August. The top one was taken just inside the adjacent national forest, while the bottom was in infrared shot in a gully that runs through our property.

Although the upper photo's bear is out of focus, I think I caught it sniffing suspiciously before it came over and batted the camera, which was on the ground, propped up with rocks, and aimed downhill along a game trail.

And why was it on the ground? Because a bear broke the bracket for the tree strap. I need to make a new T-post mount for it.

All well and good, but this looks like another tough autumn to be a bear. I walked one of my favorite nearby trails this morning and I hardly saw an acorn on the Gambel oaks. When I thought it did, it would just turn out to be one of those pale galls (some kind of wasp makes them) that are the size of a small grape.

There were acorns forming in the spring, but they vanished during the hot, dry summer. Fell off? Eaten while immature?

There were wild plums — they are all gone now, and bear turds full of plum pits lined the county road last week. One was so huge and symmetrical that it could have been entered in the state fair's animal-poop exhibit — if, of course, there were such a category.

But hardly an acorn. How is a bear supposed to bulk up?

A couple of evenings ago, after dark, M., who was outside,  heard two shots from down the road. My first thought is always, "Oh no, someone found a bear in the garage/garbage can/wherever and just executed it."

Later, about ten o'clock, we took the dogs for their before-bed walk. Passing a little cluster of houses where the shots might have originated, we heard a couple of large bangs, like someone smacking something metal.

A couple of porch lights were on, but nothing else. No voices. I carry a large Maglite flashlight at night, and I shone it around from the shoulder, cop-style, but what with bushes and trees in the way, could not see any movement or eye-flash.

The breeze was not helping — the dogs did not appear to smell anything.

So had a bear been around earlier too, and someone tried to scare it off? If so, it did not get the message.

No comments: