Welcome back for Of Bread and Bear Part Two ( alternatively titled, “The Bread also Rises” or ” For Whom the Bear Strolls” or ” The Bear and the Night Visitors” ), further adventures in wildlife and baking, in which the both bread and bear come to a safe conclusion. ( If you have missed Part One, quick click.) Preparing this post took a bit longer than anticipated. Things came up, like the water under the kitchen sink.
When we left off we had revised the meal plan – “Spaghetti Saturday Night” ( Note to non-Canadians – this is a Northern Ontario & Stompin’ Tom Allusion ). The meal proceeded without incident. There was a minor remark about the lack of meatballs, but in these hectic times we must accept some inconvenience. We kept checking on the bear to see if it had proceeded to climb down the tree yet. Eventually, after napping in the swaying boughs it began to work its way down to terra firma.
There was no sign of momma-bear so we could observe from veranda as the cautious and somewhat confused descent occurred. My wife and I remarked on the absence of the mother bear. What kind of parent lets it child wander into a stranger’s backyards looking for food, getting into all sorts of difficult situations. That mother ought to be reported. However, we are in all likelihood dealing with a yearling black bear cub. It is at this stage that the mother would let-encourage the cub to become independent.
Males: 125 to 500 pounds common, depending upon age, season, and food. Record: 816 pounds;
Females: 90 to 300 pounds common. Record: 454 pounds; Captive bears may exceed these weights.
Home Range Area Diameter
Yearlings: 2-4 km (1-2 miles). Adult females: 4-10 km (2-6 miles). Adult males: 15-30 km (8-15 miles). Excursions over 200 km (125 miles).
Young bears remain with their mother until the second summer when they are 16-17 months old. They are very playful and investigate everything.
Most famous black bear cub – In 1914, the community of White River, Ontario, Canada, bid farewell to a little black bear cub. This bear would become the inspiration of author A.A. Milne and subsequently became one of the most loved bears in the world.
Black bears are omnivorous and will eat almost anything available. Most of their food is vegetation, especially in the late summer and autumn when berries and nuts are available. Favourite fruits include blueberries, buffalo berries, strawberries, elderberries, saskatoons, black cherries, and apples. Acorns, hazelnuts, and beechnuts are other preferred foods. Insects such as ants and grasshoppers rate high, and black bears will overturn logs, old stumps, and stones while foraging.
Fish, small mammals, and occasionally birds are also on the black bear’s menu. In the spring some bears may prey upon newborn moose calves, deer fawns, caribou calves, or elk calves. Carrion of any sort is highly prized and its attractiveness to a bear increases with its degree of decomposition. Of course a tree containing honey is always a treat. Bears drink frequently and are usually found in the vicinity of water.
Bears growing up around populated areas, however, have come to associate man with food. Sightings at garbage dumps, logging camps and picnic grounds have become frequent.
Now Liz and I have been living in this community 30 years plus. We would hear about bears in the town, but these reports were mainly from the outer edges most near the main wilderness and larger lakes. We had heard about the jokes about the fast-food dumpsters. In actuality we have had only two previous encounters with bears. On one of our first excursions together we saw a young bear cross the road by Little White River. We also saw bears at the dump the one time. So considering we had never had bears near our first home, which was much closer to a typical bear foraging area we were a bit surprised.
Well the cub sort of came down, but became a bit uncertain as to what to do next. Liz made nice soft vocal encouragements. I tried to point out a human voice may not produce desired calming effect. Her next idea was perhaps he could be coaxed down with more sunflower seeds. So out she went with a plastic bowl to put beneath the tree. By now the several hundred pounds of cub was on a lower bough of the tree. Well my wife with soothing sounds goes to place bowl where cub can see it. I am ready with camera, though somewhat transfixed by all this; perhaps it was the soothing voice or watching a potential accident in slow motion. The bear’s response was not slow, nor was my wife’s return to the veranda.
The cub made a hirumphing sound while moving his front paws vigorously as if slapping the ground. Keep in mind, as he did not, that he was resting on the tree bough. For every action a reaction, especially a springy tree bough. He somehow managed to maintain a position in the tree and my wife did not end up being a soft landing for the bear.
The cub did take notice of the bowl and the seeds and worked his way down. My wife pointed out that if the gate was open he might see it from where the bowl was placed and choose to leave. Maybe if the cub saw someone going through the gate it might get the idea. I wonder who that would be ?
While I was out there I did get a few more pictures, though my wife said I my flash was not conducive to calming the cub. The cub was busy eating.
At one point while taking these shots, with my eye and camera totally concentrating on the cub, my wife excitedly says “Oh Look. Look !”( Expecting another perhaps larger bear to have appeared.) ” A hummingbird!” My heartbeat was now matching the beating wings of the bird, which had flown off – the bird, my heart remained in the vicinity of my chest.
” Would have made a great shot.”
She obliges by later drawing my attention to the noise to my right, which was a bit louder than my heart beat.
At this point it was bear to the left of me, raccoons to the right. Cue music now.
Finally, we went in, but not before the bear decided to move in a direction farthest from the open gate. This would put the cub near my wife’s goldfish pond.
Her soothing voice turn into a scolding one as she tried to discourage the cub from partaking of very fresh sushi. Fortunately, the seeds were more appetizing and he returned to the bowl.
As to the bread, it had risen very well and baking was in order.
The bread came out beautifully. I shared some with friends who reported back that they enjoyed it very much. It worked well as sandwich buns as well as going well with jam and butter. A Honey Wheat Sourdough, Winnie the Pooh would have been pleased.
One last bear sighting from our upstairs window , all went quiet and then I closed the gate.