Tasha, Ted, PA Bears, and a Mistake - UPDATE March 27, 2019

A day bed a few feet from Tasha’s den is lined with balsam fir boughs that she obviously tore off nearby trees like wild bears do when snow covers the ground vegetation they would rather rake up.Tashas daybedTasha's daybed

Ted’s first real meal of the year is tomorrow. Romaine lettuce, apples, and carrots are on the menu that Sharon puts together in consultation with the local veterinarian. The goal is not to have them put on excessive weight as can happen by over-feeding captive animals. PA bearsPA mother and cubWild bears in this area would be finding virtually nothing to eat at this time; but we don’t know the genetic origin of Ted, since he was born in captivity, so we go mostly by what he tells us. Tasha comes from Kentucky where a study in adjacent Tennessee found that bears typically emerge between March 25 and April 7 depending a bit on weather which is never as cold and snowy as here. The interesting thing is that bears there don’t come out much earlier than bears do here. I remember talking to the Tennessee researchers about that when they discovered that

A made a mistake on the mink named Clear. On March 13, I said I would call the two mink females based on a measurement of Stripe. I thought they were the same size. I now see that Clear is a little bigger; but whatever the measurements, now in mating season I see that Clear is a male. MothMoth like the fox ateIn addition to his appearance, he is traveling like the books say male mink do in mating season. He comes and gets bologna to fuel his day and is off sniffing the ground and heading out to the nether regions in various directions. I hadn’t seen him for weeks before he began showing up lately. I suspect that one reason he comes here is that Stripe, still a female, is here. Before I recognized that Clear is a male, I was surprised to see both of them going under the front deck with their bologna. Now it makes better sense.

Someone had a question about how I determined that bologna was a good snack for gulls, foxes, and mink. The answer is nothing scientific. All three have very wide diets that include meat. Bologna includes lean meat, which strict carnivores prefer. The mink here don’t eat suet. The gull does. The fox with its more omnivorous diet eats a little of it but prefers bologna. They all are gone enough to show PA pawsPA bear pawsthat they are still maintaining their wild diets. The extra cold winter (February was 7 degrees colder than usual) made me want to give the fox and mink a boost. I like seeing them around. I hope they continue stopping in from time to time when the snow and ice disappears and they can more easily catch small mammals, muskrats, etc.

Pictures of the Pennsylvania bears today were a nice picture of the cub with mom and a picture of mom’s foot pad that looks unshed to me. It looks thick and cracked. Maybe we’ll see her work on it before she leaves.

Here are a couple pictures of the furry stout-bodied 3/8ths inch long moth like the fox caught last night. If anyone can tell what kind it is, if only the family it is in, that would be nice for the record. Gray foxes are known to eat moths and other insects, so it is not earth-shaking, but it would be nice to know nevertheless. It was interesting that with bologna at hand he went so vigorously for the moth he saw land.

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