News » Bear Update

Bear update


Jeanie through summer — habituation, pregnancy and delayed implantation

Black Bear Researcher

Ripping sounds were all around me… coming closer and closer… yet I felt nothing. In the world between consciousness and sleep, I was so disoriented fighting to discern if the sounds were real and threatening or components of a dream brought on by endless bear encounters.

I had been hiking all day on Whistler Mountain finding and following nine different bears. The tears and rips were louder now – very close and distinct, but what? I struggled to gain composure. I could see sky, clouds, and bands of green. Then I felt pain. I slammed my right hand into the side of my face and shot up and out of my involuntary stupor. I sat up wobbly, in shin-deep clover. I looked down at my right hand, blood smeared across the tips of the index and middle fingers – big bad mosquito. This tiny but resilient pest shook me from hardened sleep.

I must have dozed off, or more likely passed out after pausing along the crest of a steep ski slope. I can see why I chose to stop – nice bed, red and white clover stems flourished nearly 40-cm high.

Being jolted out of sleep hurts; reminds me of a high school afternoon social studies class when being discovered dozing resulted in severe consequences.

My head ached. But what of the ripping sounds, a dream? The bear attack dream? Don't get too many of those anymore.

I sat up, looking down the lush, undulating ski trail. It was getting dark. The wind was cool and invigorating, slowly bringing me back to life. I glanced toward the east and was met by the largest full moon I had ever seen. It loomed over Fitzsimmons Glacier like a… ripping sounds again. I peered through shadows over my left shoulder and less than 4 metres away, a pair of large brown shoulders, almost entirely camouflaged by a dense canopy of clover, worked back and forth as a familiar bear’s head bobbed up and down. Each bob was followed by the short, but pronounced ripping of vegetation. I smiled at the sounds of the clover being torn from their stems. Jeanie was sprawled on her belly, fore- and hind-paws outstretched. Her head worked the area between her massive forelegs and paws. Her four canines grasped fist-size clumps of clover ripping the leaflets from their erect stems. She took three more bites of the loonie-size Trifolium leaflets before glancing my way. She chewed vigorously, not quite as effectively as a cow or deer but indeed, the stems and leaflets disappeared quickly behind the large canines.