Todd Crabtree, a naturalist extraordinaire and botanist at Tennessee’s Division of Natural Areas, sent me the following photos as a follow-up to my discussion of bear corn. Todd was leading a hike above Abrams Creek during the annual Smoky Mountain Wildflower Pilgrimage and saw this bear high in an ash tree. The photos are taken from a ridge looking down into the tree tops. The bear appeared to be nipping at the ash flowers.
Photo Credits: Todd Crabtree, 2013.
Although this is a startling sight (how do the branches hold that weight?) studies of black bears report this kind of behavior across the species’ range. In some places, the bears’ hunger for tree flowers is a significant source of damage for many trees. In southeast Alaska, for example, bears like to climb cottonwoods, staying close to the trunk then breaking off branches to munch on catkins.
Way cool. Perhaps this is an example of selective canopy trimming via the Ursic principle.
A corollary of the Ursic principle is that bears have dominion over all branches, especially those whose abundant flowers makes it clear that the branches were specially provided for the bears. Indeed, to not rip the branches off the tree would be an abdication of manifest bearstiny.
And a corollary to the corollary of the Ursic principle is that the more one discusses the ursine, the greater one’s chances of a bearish encounter. Walking the dogs last evening, around 7:30, we came around a bend in the road,and about 50 yards ahead of us was a young male (most likely), frozen in place, alert and looking right at us. We got a good 10-20 second look before he climbed up the bank and disappeared into the woods. The dogs remained remarkably composed, though we had taut leashes for a bit.
I’ll keep talking and see what happens…
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This would be, I suppose, a daylight activity for our normally nocternal cousin.
I’d assume so, but when the moon is bright…
Apparently the activity patterns of black bears are strongly affected by whether humans and other (e.g., brown) bears are nearby. When those two other species are not present, the bears are mostly active during the day (e.g., see http://web.uvic.ca/~reimlab/NOCTURNAL%20FORAGING-MORESBY0001.pdf)
… must start talking more about bears… haven’t spotted one in two years now.
Just holding them in mind might work… depends how good their hearing is.