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Bear Update:

Yearling Bears I

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The afternoon sun disappears behind rising clouds as mother and daughter traverse fragmented forests and clearings of clover. Mom seems reluctant to wait and Kitkat scrambles to keep up. She’s stronger now despite losing 20 pounds over winter. At 40 pounds she’s more mobile than her 140-pound mother. She glances at mom – who is small but tough. Despite countless encounters with big bears, nervous coyotes, and humans mom always came through. She knows what trees to climb, which gullies to disappear down and how long to wait. But a dark memory exists. A creepy feeling. Kitkat shudders and glances around, just the memory giving her the spooks.

Down in Fitzsimmons Creek late last July, nearing the end of the mating period, they were bumping into male bears daily. But mom always pushed them away. They spent days in trees. Her brother was lost during the last of those fights with a male.

Adult male black bears may attempt to kill cubs-of-the-year to force the mother into breeding status.

The yearling scrambles to catch up to mom. She stops suddenly – lush grasses and clover – too good to pass up. Have to eat this. Mom is still there, a little farther away but still there. Kitkat spends the next few minutes grazing then eyes a blanket of yellow dandelion flowers. Walking over them she hits each flower, snapping the yellow heads off. She maintains a good rhythm of bobbing and snapping when her world – her secure world of 18 months – is completely shattered.

A large black bear suddenly comes charging down the slope towards her. Hair sticks up and muscles fire, igniting the instinct to run toward the edge of the ski trails where the not-so-big second growth trees provided the only escape cover. No noise, don’t waist energy crying out, just run and climb like hell.

She hit the 30-cm wide Douglas-fir trunk two-metres off the ground with both forepaws and pulled herself upward to safety. She hit so hard she almost overshot the tree and landed on the other side in tree branches.

Half way up the tree, when it was clear the larger bear was not following, Kitkat began to bawl. Long, loud wails echoed through the mountain. She sat cradled on two branches and looked down into the face of her mother. Confused, she began to descend immediately, concluding that the strange bear was gone. Mom pushed him away again. Kitkat dropped to the ground at the lower branches and became horribly confused – her mother charged the tree and her!