Thursday, July 12, 2007

Brown Bear!

"Go home! Go home to your Momma!"

I can remember hearing Elena holler that to us kids in Old Harbor when a Kodiak bear came down out of the hills behind the village and then fearlessly ambled into our village. Bears that did not fear man were considered "no good" and dangerous. The men in the village would shoot them. Bears did not do that often but when one did it was not tolerated.

We were taught to respect bears and keep our distance. When everyone went to Barling Bay to "get fish" for drying there were always guys with the job of keeping a watchful eye out for bears that came too close. I don't remember any bears ever being shot while we were out but I can remember hearing that there were bears close by. When the bears came then the fish gathering was hurried up and we all loaded back into the skiffs and went home to the village.

That was normal village life in the summer. Fish came and bears came. Fish went and bears went. If they didn't they were shot.

Whenever we go on a road trip here in South central Alaska I always keep my eyes peeled for bears. I never see them! I have my camera sitting on my lap in case I do though! I keep reading others stories of seeing bear especially around Denali Park! I scour the terrain looking and looking but still have not caught a bear on my camera.

I did some reading about our elusive, furry fish lovers this morning. They have furry coats in shades of blonde, brown or black or combinations of those colors. Many times the longer outer guard hairs of the brown bear are tipped with white or silver, giving it a grizzled look. Short stubby tails. Brown bears have a large hump of muscle over their shoulders, used for digging. A large bear can break the neck or spine of a fully grown buffalo with one swipe. His claws don't retract so they are usually dull with wear. Normally these bears get up to be 9.2 feet tall. The larger Kodiak bear can get to be up over 10 feet tall. Brown bears use their sharp canine teeth for neck-biting. Brown bears will ambush their prey with force. These guys have been clocked at speeds in excess of 35 mph and are known to have incredible stamina--- capable of running at full speed for miles at a time without stopping.

Brown bears may live up to 34 years but according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game "this is rare. Usually, old males may reach 22 years. Old females may live to 26." These bears can smell very good and under the right conditions may be able to detect odors more than a mile away! Hearing and eyesight are much the same as man's. When a bear stands up it is not to get ready to charge but to test the wind and to see better.

A bear CAM from National Geographic! It's at the McNeil River here in Alaska, a popular, remote, bear-viewing area. (I had to download and install a RealPlayer plug in, watch the download carefully if you don't want to get any other add-ons to your browser or desktop or have Realplayer change your preferences.) It's worth the download! It's a very cool webcam!

Chevy, my big dog, barks whenever he hears fireworks (we live in one of the only fireworks allowed area in Alaska) and when he hears gunshots. Normally he does not bark. At 4 A.M. this morning he was barking and barking. He woke Doug and I up.

I listened for fireworks with my eyes closed but it was quiet. Finally, Doug got up and went to the opened window and called, "Chevy? Chevy?" Chevy just kept on barking, so he went to the deck door, opened it and I croaked, "Don't scold him until you know what he is barking at, he never barks for no reason." He went outside to look around and when he heard something in the lake he thought at first it must be a beaver sloshing around out there, then he saw something big and he thought a moose. Then he says, "Connie! A bear! A brown bear!"

Oh my word!!!! I was so excited. A bear right on our own Maui Beach! (An area we have been clearing to make it into our own Maui Beach, hehehe.) I jumped out of bed and got outside too. I could hear him but he was in the trees. I ran to get my camera just in case this would be the day my camera caught a bear!

Marie was jogging around the lake last night just before she retired and when I told her we saw a brown bear this morning she gasped and said, "I had a strange feeling last night that there was a bear or something close by!" OH MY GOODNESS!

Anyway, this is the picture of the brown bear.


It IS in there somewhere!


Marie VW said...

ha. Poor mom. Those sneaky bears!

I was thinking later this morning that I did notice that Chevy was sniffing a lot more intensely on the sides of the trail last night. Maybe that was part of the reason I felt like a bear could be around. He usually never lets me get in front of him, but last night he was always behind me catching up.

Connie Marie said...

Every time you go running around the lake I don't like it! Yes! Chevy does not ever let us be first... he is such a good dog. Were you thinking you were beginning to run faster than him??? ha

I love you, Marie.

Kerri said...

Oh, the elusive bear! When will they learn to pose for cameras? hehe

I remember Millie telling me she wanted to catch a bear on camera. She, too, takes her camera everywhere. One time she just KNEW she saw one...had Josh turn around and go back to where she saw a cub on the rocks. Turned out to be a large raven! Shame on Raven for teasing Millie. He's always been a trickster! :o)

Connie Marie said...

LOL! That is a funny story about Millie.

As for bears posing my daughter and her husband saw a bear along the highway coming up from the Lower 48 and he just sat there looking cute! ha

I am sort of scared to walk outside right now. I keep looking for Chevy and watch to make sure he isn't listening to something big and furry before I go out there anywhere, hehehe

BIKE NUT 2 said...

I'm not sure I am ready for bears in my back yard but I do like the view better than here. It's mostly flat.

Connie Marie said...

Hi bike nut!

I was not ready for bear in my back yard myself! We are still trying to adjust... my daughter usually jogs around the lake in the evenings and right now she tried going, but now there is someone over there throwing junk into the lake ---I think some PEOPLE might be a bigger threat to her well being than the bear is!

Thanks for the comment!

Constance said...

Good Morning BBF!

You really snookered me! Do you know that I hadn't seen the last line of your post when I actually saved that picture and decided to go in and edit it. I enlarged it and lightened it thinking the bear would pop out at me like one of those "Highlights" magazine. I started smiling, closed down the picture and THEN read the last line of your post! Ha Ha! I had really gotten excited! I was thinking,

"I can't wait to show this to Dave so he can see what my bloggy friend has in her own back yard!"

I get excited about seeing bears when we go out west but I only want to see them from a distance! They are some massive critters! I know that bear bell, bear spray and my puny pocket knife aren't exactly as effective as carrying a firearm but honestly, I could see me carrying a bazooka and shooting my own knee cap off in the excitement of a rushing bear!


Connie Marie said...

lol! haha about the photo editing. SORRYYYYY ((((((((((BBF))))))))))) It is in there somewhere. I snappend the picture at 4 a.m. I just pointed in the general direction. Too many trees that he was going in and out of, I guess it could have been a girl bear.

Marie went jogging last night!!!! She is a brave woman! I told her that she should at least carry her .357 in a chest holster, but she said, "I will have Chevy."

ai yi ya!

e-Mom said...

A great post! The closest we come to wildlife in our urban environment is racoons. (We're currently "trapping" one with a cage in our backyard... not too successfully.) My husband would love your webcam, so I'll ask him if he'd like a peek.

Once when we were camping in the Canadian Rockies, we saw fresh bear tracks. My husband stooped to take a picture (which we still have) but I was out of there and down the trail like a jackrabbit! Thanks for a great read. :~)

Connie Marie said...

Wise decision e-mom, running like a jack rabbit!

I have heard that when you encounter a bear you should not turn tail and run though, you should stop and slowly back off instead. I never want to have to try either!!!!

We don't have racoons up here but I've seen them in Florida and Tennessee and they are cute! I guess they can be a nuisance though, huh?

Thanks for visiting!


I am so glad you got to see a bear but I sure hope it stays away from your house. I enjoyed reading about the bears. I have only seen one in the zoo. connie from Texas

Connie Marie said...

And I'm hoping the very same thing too, Thoughtful Connie.