Berries, Coprophagy, and a Bear Play Day - UPDATE August 11, 2018
What happened to the berries? Bears are appearing in number. Some people are finding blueberries. Others are not. One said the one blueberry she found was shriveled up.In some years upland blueberries fail while lowland blueberries continue. I thought scats would contain a lot of sarsaparilla berries for what I was seeing earlier, but scats we are seeing are almost purely chokecherry (maybe some pincherry). The chokecherry tree out the window is still loaded. But chokecherry trees are not as ubiquitous as blueberry bushes and sarsaparilla plants. So if cherries are all they have as the scats suggest, no wonder bears are showing up big time now.
Whatever the case, chipmunks and crows want berries so bad they are eating bear feces. We say that bear feces don’t smell bad. In the courses, we scoop up a handful. People smell it and say it smells like the berries in it—not that bad. And they apparently don’t smell bad to crows and chipmunks. Two pictures today were of a scat torn apart by crows and a picture of an eastern chipmunk stuffing its cheeks from a cherry scat.
On this 90°F day, herring gulls were panting with their beaks open, showing what it looks like inside. For the bears it was a lot of time in the water. It was like a party. First it was a bear in the tub. Then a bear came to play with the bear in the tub. That scene got repeated a few times. Then it was bears playing in the yard—and bears playing in Woods Lake.
A relief was a sighting of Braveheart today. She hadn’t been seen since June 26 when berries were ripening. Today, she showed up to jump in a bear tub at one of the community bear feeding stations. Fun was in the air.
Samantha showed up with flaccid breasts and enlarged nipples like she had cubs, lost them, and has now lost her milk.
Oh, if anyone left me a message during July when I had no dial tone for the entire month, I heard that the message thing would come on during that time. However, now when the phone is working again, all there were for messages were 7 from the couple days before the phone started working. We’re back to regular now.
Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center