I paddled upstream today looking for bears. I found one almost immediately! It was walking upstream on the left and so I paddled upstream on the right. We had rain last night so the stream was flowing faster than normal. We kept pace with each other but when I took out the camera to take this shot I quickly headed back downstream.
The vast majority of salmon a bear will eat are dead. The salmon spawn,die and float downstream. Bears are part of the clean up crew. They walk along the streams edge looking for dead salmon. If you don’t have to work for your dinner why bother?
This bear came across two salmon! It grabbed the first one and promptly dropped it. It than found a second one and walked off into the forest to enjoy but I was surprised to see It come back out 15 seconds later! When I see a bear being “fussy” that means It’s tummy is full! I bet the only fish it would keep would be a fresh squirming one!
I saw three bears on this trip but I still think there should be more! I saw 4 large dead salmon laying very close to the streams bank. Seeing those fresh salmon told me no bears have been around! If just one bear had walked by It would of grabbed one.
This bear was full, most likely because very few bears are around leaving plenty of salmon to eat! Enough salmon that It can afford to be fussy!
I camped out at my favorite river so as to get shots of the bears grabbing salmon! Lots of salmon in the river but zero bears? I was there for three days and saw no bears!
I talked to a friend of mine who has the unusual job of swimming down many streams around Tofino. He and his wife count salmon to get a idea on how healthy the run is. He told me that in 17 swims over the last month he and his wife saw only one bear!
No hunter or hunters could possibly wipe out that many bears all over the place. Maybe in one stream but still that’s stretching it! I haven’t a clue as to what’s going on? I’m hoping he and I are both wrong and the bears will show up on mass soon!
I found two bears tonight. I recognized this bear as one I’ve called “Big Bart”. He’s been around for a few years. He’s shy but tolerates me.
Because of there being no Bear Watching boats zipping around, the bears appear to be more skittish.
I think they get accustomed to boats being around when the bear watching boats are out. Because of this virus the boats haven’t been out this year,so the bears have gotten use to silence making it more difficult for me to get close. Fortunately many of them already know me!
Both of the bears tonight were males. This guy is younger. Not sure but maybe 3 to 4 years? We do not know each other. So he was keeping a eye on me. When I meet bears like this I try not to move. Movement can spook them.
Here a few cute cubs to make you smile and go awwwwwwwwwwww!
I’ve taken pictures of hundreds of bears over 40 years! Each one is a unique memory and picture! When I’m close and I stare into their eyes and theirs into mine,I feel there is more there than we are aware of.
I haven’t been able to get close enough to tell if this bear is a boy or girl? I suspect a female as the fur around the head is large and rounded. She was suspicious of me as I had to beach the boat and walk on land to get closer. Whenever she bent down to get a mouthful of grass,I’d move silently towards her. When she looked up I froze. Bears get nervous If they see movement. She’ll get use to me after a few months.
This female didn’t trust me and so walked into the bush. Thats what some do when they first get to know me in the Spring. After a few months they calm down. She had a good coat for just coming out of her winters nap.
Back in September I placed a trail camera up river to capture the goings on of the locals.
This is my first time using these cameras in this manner. I set it up and left it for several months. I came back twice to swap out the cards. The first time I left the camera for a month. After swapping the card and getting home I found the 32 Gig card had filled up in only 6 days,and than It sat there for 3 more weeks doing nothing! Clearly I needed to cut down on the memory being filled so quickly! The camera turns on when anything walks in front of it. I found a lot of the memory was being filled up by bears searching for salmon at night. I couldn’t tell what was going on but I could see their beady eyes shining back at me.
I’ve always been curious If bears hunted for salmon at night? I’ve never been brave enough to paddle upstream to find out myself. Our eyesight isn’t that good in the dark,maybe we could get away with it during a full moon but generally speaking we are blind as bats out in the dark. Bears have a reflective layer coating the back of their eye. Think of a stainless steel bowl. This reflects the light back out.
The eye is made up of two basic units,rods and cones. Cones are used for colour while rods are used for light intensity. Light coming into the eye hits the front of the rod creating a signal. It than hits the back of the eye and the light is reflected back out to the backside of the rod where it is detected a second time. So by having this extra light capacity the animal can see very well in the dark. Many animals have this ability. Our own pets have this reflective coating.
So I decided to cut out all of the night shots to help reduce the storage problem. I also cut the video length from 30 seconds to 15 seconds. I programmed it to come on at 7 am and turn off at 7 pm.
I found this stretched the memory capacity significantly! Here are a few videos for your entertainment.
This shows a bear searching for salmon. He cannot see but we can that there are zero salmon in that pool. Keep searching buddy!
This video shows a bear that has grabbed a salmon. Once a bear grabs a salmon they usually walk off into the forest right away so another bear won’t see them with the salmon. If another bear does see it with a salmon there is a good chance it would go after that bear. Which usually causes the bear to drop its prize and flee in fright!
Bullying is alive and well in Nature!
This shows a bear walking through the lower pool in search of its breakfast.
You can see a eagles failed attempt at grabbing its own breakfast.
This is the last video I shot. It shows me arriving to grab the camera. Season was done!
I do not know this bear and obviously she does not know me. She folded her ears back and sniffed at the air. She wanted to know what I was? Bears are fearful at this stage. I gently talked to her which seemed to calm her down.
I’m pretty sure this is a 3 year old Piglet all grown up. Not only does she have the identical chest mark but she also recognized me! She didn’t run away and allowed me to get within 15 feet. I always talked to her. I think the voice helped her remember.
She is doing really well and It was so good to see my little friend all grown up! One thing I did notice is that she had been swiped by another bear in a fight. Bears always swipe at the eyes. She has a small scar under her right eye.
Peggy has a new cub this year,so I’m calling it Piglet III. Its her third cub. I do not know the sex but suspect another female? She was being shy. She was using Peggy’s body as a shield. She eventually came out from behind mum and than she promptly walked into the forest without saying so much as a polite goodbye. Such a short debut!
I went looking for bears tonight,first time this year. I went up the eastern shore of Fortune Channel for several miles not seeing any. I made my return run and just as I was about to leave Fortune I did spot one but it was in the shade. Wouldn’t you know it! You know how I hate black bears in shade!
Having said that……10% of something is better than 100% of nothing! It looks like a matured female.
I love the eyes on this bear! She has such innocent eyes! She recognizes me! I do think she likes me.
I usually stand in the river with my canoes bow line tied around my waist.Being in the middle of the stream not only puts me off of the bears patrolling routes but also frees up my hands for the camera.
I saw Teddy walking towards me from upstream.She walked to just opposite me & simply waited there all the while staring at me with such a sweet face.I do believe she wants to get closer. For instance, she pretended she saw something in the rear of my canoe. As if she saw a salmon there!
So she waded out into the water to go check.I couldn’t allow her to do that & so told her to stop & she did exactly that.
When I got into my canoe to head back downstream the current was fast.She began to follow me,I did see her face change when she realized she couldn’t keep up. She stopped,turned around & went back upstream.
I bet If I threw her my hat she’d walk away with it! I’ve never had a bear girlfriend before.
She’ll be going to bed soon & I look forward to seeing her again!
I was very surprised to see so many bears all out wandering along the rivers edge looking for salmon! I think they know the run is coming to a end & are trying to get the last snack in before beddy bye!
With the rain we got all week, Tranquil creek turned into Tranquil river! This bear swam across to the other side.I had been walking upstream with my canoe in this very spot last week. Not a chance today!
I tied my boat up along a downed tree downstream.I was walking back to my boat when this bear came out of the forest in front of me & began walking downstream as well. It spied my boat & was curious. When it walked along the down tree to inspect my boat I yelled at her! Last thing I need are her claws puncturing the air tubes! She looked wide eyed at me for a second,turned & ran into the forest.
I got into my boat & began to drift downstream.She came back out looking rather perplexed…….”What did I do”?