Thursday, June 8, 2017

Black Bear

Be Aware of What is Around You When Birding and Botanizing

Black Bear
Black bears are common in New Brunswick.  Their population is presently high, so we need to be aware of what is around us when we are in the woods and fields.  On most occasions black bears present no danger to people.  They usually know you are coming before you arrive and disappear before you even knew they were there.  However, it is certainly possible that you will surprise one when you are rambling through the woods and fields.

The bear shown above was eating happily in the ditch of the road on the edge of Kouchibouguac National Park on Sunday past.  It had found a delectable plant growing in the damp ditch.  It was reluctant to move as we slowly moved past within 10 metres of it.  This bear gave no indication whatsoever of being aggressive towards people.  All it wanted to do was to eat and be left alone.  Unfortunately the cars on the road disturbed it.

Black Bear
The bear shown above was happily sunning itself in our field one afternoon.  It was about 200 metres from our buildings.  It sat happily and watched me as I photographed it.  It remained there most of the afternoon.  We have a good population of bears near populated areas in New Brunswick.

I have come across a lot of bear sign in the last couple of years while birding or botanizing.  I have seen lots of bear tracks and scat.  I have seen stumps and rotten logs torn apart by bears as well.  They are just living their normal lives and leaving evidence behind.  

Black Bear Track
Bears come out of their dens in early spring.  They give birth to their cubs during the winter and the cubs emerge with them.  They are hungry at that time and heavily feed on whatever edible foods they can find.  A mother bear is very protective of her cubs and one must stay clear of a bear with cubs.  On one of our field trips we came across three small bear cubs in a tree.  We knew the mother bear was not far away so we got in the truck quickly.  The little bears peaking down at us were very cute.

Black Bear [Leo Doucet Photo]
When seeing bears photographers are often tempted to get closer to get the 'good' photo.  One must be cautious.  Getting too close to a bear is foolish.  Moving too close disturbs the bear and is not an ethical behaviour for naturalists or photographers.  We must respect the animal and its habitat.  After hearing the story of how the above photograph was taken,  I concluded the photographer was too close!  Leo was lucky the bear ran in the opposite direction!

Bears are an important part of our nature and ecosystem.  They have a definite place in the ecology of our boreal and acadian forests.  We need to be aware of a possible encounter and at the same time enjoy our forests and fields.

To read about what to do when encountering a bear, go to the government of New Brunswick website for good information.  See the address below:

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