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Why are Bears Ganging Up? - UPDATE June 18, 2020

Fred & Chloe 6-16-20That’s another question I heard lately. To some people, it’s scary enough to see one bear; but bears ganging up? That’s either too much, or an opportunity to see new behaviors—especially if the bears feel safe enough to go about their lives.

Why groups now?

We have just come through the period of family breakup that precedes the mating season. Before family breakup, mothers were traveling with sizeable cubs that were about to be on their own. Now that we are into mating season, it’s male/female pairs traveling together. We’re at the peak of that right now with only a week or two to go before mating season is over. The pair shown is 4-year-old Fred (son of 11-year-old Samantha) and 2-year-old Chloe (daughter of 21-year-old RC) sharing a little closeness on June 15th.

Whether Chloe can maintain a pregnancy depends on food. Early on, I was anticipating a great berry crop because the cold spring delayed blossoming until it was unlikely that the blossoms would be killed by a spring frost. All went well. But now, the lack of rain raises a question. Rain is needed for good berries.

Another reason for groups of bears now is that yearlings are on their own, and they sometimes buddy up to travel together, play, and maybe help each other detect danger. I’ve never seen more than three (typically all males) traveling together, and we have that again this year. As is usual, all are from different mothers. Joseph is the son of 18-year-old Braveheart. Betelguese is from 20-year-old Donna, and Tom is from 9-year-old Oliana.

I have to admit that I erred twice lately.

In the update of June 15, the bear I said was Carter was actually his brother Casey tussling with Rusty.

In the update of June 13, I put the wrong month (May) on the picture of red maple seeds I took that day. That was the blue sky picture of nearly mature maple leaves with mature seeds ready to drop. I checked today, and all have dropped.

At the Bear Center, dear Ted demonstrated how to have fun in a pond and stream. You splash. You swirl the water. You enjoy staying cool. "Taught" caught 4 minutes of it in this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7TEGg-w2LY.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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