Wednesday, August 19, 2020

California Black Bear

 The California black bear is a subspecies of the American black bear and is found in the mountains of Southern California (in the chaparral shrub land), the Central Valley and north to southern Oregon (in the temperate rain forest and other varied climates). A few have cinnamon colored fur. There are an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 of them. In California the average male is 190 pounds and the average female is 128 pounds, which surprisingly to me, is less than the averages of some other subspecies, such as those in the Great Smoky Mountains. 
Our first view of the bear.
It was just after this photo that it turned to me and growled. 
I've recently joined iNaturalist and find that there are 296 identifications so far, predominating in the mountains of Southern California, the Sierras and more widespread in Northern California, above San Francisco.
Crawling over logs and looking for places to pull it apart and eat insects. 

Preparing the tree to stick in its nose and eat insects. 
We recently visited Sequoia National Park, in the western Sierras east of Fresno and Visalia. While there we took the 3.4 mile roundtrip Tokopah Falls hike, above the Lodgepole Campground. On our way up some hikers in front of us whispered that a bear was nearby. A few seconds later a smallish bear, about 15 yards east of the trail, near a meadow, sauntered past us, walking on a log. As it passed us I followed it a few yards to get a better photo and it turned to me, did a growl and a bluff charge, and of course I stopped and turned away. 

Note that in direct sunlight, the coast looks much more brown. 
On our way back we encountered the bear again, this time quite close to the trailhead. I stood in the trail taking photos and we watched it for about ten minutes as it put its paws on downed trees and ripped away sections of them and stuck its nose in to eat insects. At one point it started walking straight towards me, then veered off to another stump. 
While it was walking towards me.

It was by far the closest experience I've had with a bear and was a real thrill.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely a heart-stopping experience when he turned towards you and growled, especially since I was standing right next to you. It was pretty exciting to be that close, and a little terrifying.