The View From Up There

…for many of us the world would be a poorer place without bears. We keep bears because they are a part of nature and because of what they do for the human mind, body, and soul.

~Steve Herrero

black bear in tree

Young Black Bear in large Bald Cypress tree (click photos to enlarge)

I have seen several bears in trees this winter, even a couple with my groups, which is always a thrill. A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Pocosin Lakes NWR the day before one of my tours and just spent some time wandering and looking. It was a beautiful afternoon and much of the wildlife seemed to be taking it easy, and even I was contemplating a nap in the sun. As I walked, I just happened to look up and I discovered a young Black Bear about forty feet up in a Bald Cypress tree. The bear’s silhouette was hidden from view as I approached the tree and without a glance over my shoulder, I might have missed it. Makes me wonder how many I have walked by in the past.

black bear in tree 2

The bear turned and looked down at me

I walked around the tree to get some better light on the bear and it turned and looked down at me.

black bear in tree 1

We watched each other for several minutes. I was intent on watching every movement it made, but the bear took its eyes off me frequently to look around and occasionally groom itself.

black bear in tree 3

Bears have short, curved claws for climbing

The bear then decided to climb a bit higher. Black Bears have curved claws about two inches long which allow them to easily climb trees. Their stocky stature and incredible strength also aid their climbing skills.

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Bear checking on my position after climbing to a large limb

The bear seemed more comfortable on the larger limb, and, after checking on my whereabouts, sat down against the trunk and soaked in some of that warm afternoon sun.

black bear in tree 4

Relaxing in the sun

I envy the bear the view from up there. I imagine it must be fun to be in the trees with the birds. This young bear (I am guessing it was less than 100 pounds) may have climbed for a degree of protection from some of the larger bears (and humans) in the area, or it may just be nice to have that penthouse view.

black bear in tree 6

Making its way down the trunk

Finally, after about fifteen minutes, the young bear decided to head down the trunk. It went around to the back side of the tree and began its descent. I stayed where I was so as to not spook it.

black bear at base of tree

Sniffing the air from the base of the tree

black bear at base of tree 1

A parting glance

Once on the ground, the bear came around the trunk, sniffing the air, sizing up the surroundings. It gave me one glance, and then slowly turned and ambled off into the woods. I watched it through the thick vegetation for a few minutes as it nosed the ground, occasionally digging in the soft earth, and then disappeared into a wall of River Cane, tree saplings, and vines. I’m not sure what impact I had on the bear in the time we spent together, but I know it left a lasting impression on me.


3 thoughts on “The View From Up There

  1. Pingback: Pungo Lake scenes | Around the bend

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