Black Bear Sanctuary II

Published: July 1st 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

So being at the bears for some time, i am ready for a change to get to Central America. Just the change of even lugging my belongings from crowded bus to crowded bus seems like the bit of new scenery i need. Some illness has been spread around through the volunteers and unfortunately i had also gotten ill... had to sleep an entire day to recover, which meant i got to avoid visitors for a day, hooray! There are some great bits about the sanctuary though- i do enjoy the rustic-camping wilderness of it all. Although we now have the ‘pleasures’ of having a trailer with electricity and wireless internet, a lot of us try not to use it too often. We’ve had a wolf spider in our cabin who frequents us with visits. Once the spider chased me off the edge of my bed and i fell over backwards screaming, throwing pillows at it... We caught him and released him outside; he probably found his way in later that night. I enjoy living in dark cabins where you have to shake out your clothes and boots all the time if spiders or other critters inhabit them...

There is a bird nest above the cabin i stay in, right above the door, and a few times she has flown down and nearly hit my head or has hit me. The other night, Jason and Step were coming into the cabin behind me; Step forced Jason in first, who was covering his head with a shirt, i made a ‘fff-fff-fff’ noise like bird wings, and both the guys jumped, screamed like girls, and ran! that had me laughing at them for a while.

Good news as Cheeky (my favorite bear) showed up on opening day stomping around and scent marking by rubbing on trees. I love to watch the big males parade around stomping the ground claiming their territory and scent marking. It’s great to see them try to impress the females by making clucking noises and trying to bite their necks hoping to mate. One bear, Zeke, was seen many times harassing the females, who run off and are just trying to eat. Zeke scares the female from one pile when he makes advancements at her then starts to eat where she just left from.

There is a larger, older bear, Biscuit, who has been here since the days of hand-feeding the bears. Usually the older bears are more familiar with the routine and are like little kids who get whatever they want! They will sit outside the food shed, step inside if you leave the door open to work, they will follow you around, stand right beside you as you try to feed them. We try to keep ten feet still since they are wild bears but some of the bears don’t understand that or care and will touch their nose to your hand as you try to put food down. They are such gentle creatures with such a bad reputation. But Biscuit is the worst. If she is around, we have to shut the doors because she will sneak her large head in with her big sad eyes and not move until you put nuts down for her. She won’t budge for seeds or mix, but if she hears the nuts in the bucket she will move. She just sits and pants and if she starts to walk away and hears the food shed door open, she will quickly turn around and start hobbling back, her slow Biscuit trademark walk.

Another bear, Biscuit Boy, as i was feeding nearby he snuck up and put a paw inside the bucket i was using. I tried to retrieve it but with his claws holding the edge, he was using no effort to hold the bucket in place as i tried to (with both hands) steal my bucket back. I had no choice but to let him have it as the bears’ have such empowering massive strength. It was unbelievable how little effort he used with four claws. He tipped the bucket over and scooped out some of the mix with his claw, into his mouth and on the floor. When he had gotten enough, i asked if i could have the bucket back, and he tipped it back up right for me and watched me take it.

Strange behaviour we have noticed is a mom who has two cubs and a yearling! When the mom is eating, the yearling eats with her and she calls to the cubs up in the trees. When she leaves, she sends the cubs up the trees and the yearling stays with them, and if they are eating and the yearling get scared, she sends the cubs up the tree to safety, then climbs after them. It’s very unusual because usually black bears will only give birth every other year, dispersing their one-year olds in the summer, but this mom isn’t dispersing her yearling with the rest of the moms, she will probably wait until the following year and disperse all three.

One day everything was going wrong; Jason tried to fill up water for our sink (since we don't have water or electricity) and some pipes weren’t hooked properly and leaked in the kitchen... Twice... Frank (an old man and nephew of Vince, the founder of the bear sanctuary) tried to move a large semi truck bed with a flat tire and he ended up tipping the trailer over top of the admissions booths and almost demolished both of them. Somehow, he and the other guys got it out okay and now it is parked in front of the dumpsters.

For the opening day, a Native American, Kurt Goodsky, did a blessing ceremony he does every year, where he smokes his tobacco pipe and sings a drum song then he does a food offering with a small piece of pancake to the bears who they believe are protectors of their people, and the bears are the spirits of thier grandparents. It was really great to hear his story of how they respect the bears like that, but some of their people do not like the sanctuary because they think we are exploiting the bears. But we have to be opened to public to make enough money to buy bear food, since the only things people donate are their scrap dinners and left over donuts and cakes... however, we still do get loads of food donated which is factory floor scrapings and no longer for humans to eat, and are full of sugars and chocolates or covered in barbecue flavor powder....

Well this is a long entry, but will update again before i leave the sanctuary...

^Út Í Óvissuna^


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