Part 1: Getting to the Bear's Den
|Mount Katahdin from Route 11 in Maine.|
Our group was fortunate enough to be going out with bear biologists Mitch Jackman, Jake Feener and one of the most well known biologists, Lisa Bates. It was a 17 mile truck ride into the woods from the office followed by a two mile bushwacking snowmobile ride to the den.
This particular den had been marked in January when the biologists had shown up expecting to see mom and two yearlings. Instead, they heard cub cries and immediately left to come back in March. The bear, named King, is seven years old. Her mom BB (for Bartlett Bear) had been denning in this same area until she was harvested during the hunting season a few years ago. After that, King moved back into the are and started denning there herself.
When we arrived near the den, Lisa took a reading to make sure that the collar was working and that they could get a signal helping them confirm the location of the bear.
|Lisa checking for a signal from King's collar.|
|Jake and Mitch at the mouth of the den.|
The bear study areas in Maine have been going on for years and years. Once the bears become a member of the study group, they become aware of the biologist yearly trip and they know what is coming. Lisa talked about times in which the bears would bite or swipe at the needle coming at them, even though they could easily bite or swipe at the arm reaching in.
Finally, we got the ok and walked up to where Jake and Mitch were. They had pulled down sleeping bags from their packs and laid them on the snow in preparation for King and her cubs to be taken out of their den. Jake asked if any of us wanted to look into the den before any bears were removed. I jumped at the chance.
|The den's opening.|
|There is King!|
|King in her den.|