Bears, Bison and a Bonkers Husband!

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May 26th 2019
Published: May 27th 2019
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Saturday 25th May 2019

The Riding Mountain National Park sits on First Nation treaty territory so the park works closely with a coalition of First Nations, mostly Ojibwe and Cree. It is an amazing place with an abundance of wildlife. Riding Mountain is renowned for the diversity of its wildlife including moose, bear, elk, deer, grey wolf, cougar, coyote, lynx, badger, otter, mink, ermine, fox, rabbit, hare and birds of prey. In our short two-night stay we saw a fox, two Douglas squirrels, several white-tailed deer, two bears and eleven bison as well as numerous birds including a little bright orange “Orio”.

We left our B and B early to journey to the Bison Range where a herd of about thirty are to be found. It is about 50 kilometres from the hotel. Bison graze out on the prairie in the mornings and evenings, hiding away in the middle of the day in the forest, so we had to get there as soon as possible. On the way, however, we met a beautiful Black Bear, so were a little later than we wanted getting to the Bison Range. Nevertheless, we saw five beauties but from a fair way off; great to view from our car along the rough track with binoculars, however. We determined to make the hundred-kilometre round trip again in the evening, which we did. We were hoping to see some mothers and babies but they were not out and about. We saw six bison before it grew dark and they were very close; they were right beside our car, completely ignoring us as they grazed. The sheer size of these beasts is daunting. When they are right beside and in front of the car it is a bit nerve-racking. Notices along the track warn people not to get out of their cars at any time if Bison are nearby! As if!

To return to the bear (actually we saw two but one disappeared into the trees quite quickly as we drew near), John was a little reckless but came to no harm: he was driving and stopped when he saw a bear up a tree ahead of us. Whilst I was winding down the window and getting the camera ready to shoot, he got out of the car, armed with his Go-Pro and started walking down the road towards the bear! I could not believe it! Bonkers! I then had to get out of the car myself, go around to the driver’s side, get in and very slowly ease the car forward to collect him. Through gritted teeth I advised John to get in the passenger seat and film the bear from there, which he did, commenting as he did so “That bear is too busy up the tree to worry about me!” I managed to slowly get right up to the tree without disturbing the bear and we got some great shots.

What a wonderful day! Black bears and Bison! How lucky we were! Once the Bison in Canada were endangered, only numbering in their hundreds; today they estimate about 10,000 and are no longer on the endangered list. Black bear numbers are higher also and people are more responsible, taking notice of signs telling them to keep all food out of sight; keep the bears wild! Bears used to be wary of man but sadly they will raid for food when hungry when they emerge from hibernation after a long winter like this year. Food should only be in metal containers (or the car) if camping and all rubbish bins are bear-proof.
They are not aggressive animals, they are naturally vegetarian, but careless humans have given them a taste for human left-over burgers and pizza so they will naturally, attack for this food when hungry.

Apart from enjoying bears and bison, we also visited the Park Visitor’s Centre by Clear Lake, Riding Mountain. Twenty mad Canadians stripped off down to swimming costumes and ran into the lake for a quick dip. It is seriously cold water so they came out shivering. Why? Because they can I suppose! Crazy!

Sunday 26th May 2019

Today was a driving day; we drove from Riding Mountain to Regina in Saskatchewan. All together now we have driven 3,412 kilometres and are in our third territory (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan). It was a good drive across the prairies. Many people say it is monotonous, but we enjoyed the drive. The skies are big out here, hardly another vehicle to share the road with and the feeling of space and vastness of wide openness is breath-taking after being in deep forest for a few weeks. We passed a little town called DUFF (my maiden name) as well as one called Balgonie: a lot of Scottish heritage out

We are just in Regina for one night, in a motel. Since the weather is warming up considerably, we are hoping to camp again later this week; there are no bears out here on the prairie. Saskatchewan Bigfoot maybe but not bears!

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27th May 2019


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