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