Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Bear At The Library

I took the children downtown for a fall scavenger hunt, this week.

The older girls prepared lists of things for the younger children to spot...a maple leaf, a squirrel, a bat decoration, an oak tree - which proved impossible, I think maybe we're at too high an elevation, but we did find...

...a bear track. Actually, several bear tracks, right outside the library.

And, some bear scat, too. If you enlarge the picture, you might be able to make out the seeds, and cherry pits, in the pile.

We also found deer tracks...

...and scat.

There were a lot of rabbit droppings too, but you can only take so many pictures of piles of pooh downtown, before people start looking at you oddly.

Besides, it was the bear tracks, that I found interesting. They're the first I've ever seen myself, though the Man of the House has seen them often in the woods. I took him back down to the library in the evening, and had him take a look at them, just to be sure. He agreed they were black bear (you can tell by the size, and spreading of the toes, that they are black bear, and not grizzly), and thought from their size, spacing, and depth, that it's a pretty good sized bear, too.

To give you an idea of the size of the paw print, here's one beside my size 8 shoe.

When we got home, I played The Magic School Bus In The City (here, on for the children, since it's about how wild animals can find what they need to live, and thrive, even in the "city".

Then, we talked about what bear need. All around the area where we saw the tracks, are fruit trees, loaded with apples, pears, and crab apples (which probably explains the deer, too). Just behind the library, runs an alley, lined with garbage cans from downtown businesses, including a couple coffee shops. And, there are several dry ditches, making cave like tunnels, under streets, and alleys.

There hasn't been any alert in the newspaper, about bears in our town, though the Man of the House heard recently there was one getting into garbage cans in a neighborhood not far from ours. We did find in the "cities", such as Missoula, and Bozeman, there are regulations in place to help deal with the bears. People at the edges of those towns are asked to keep their garbage in garages until the morning of pick-up, or in special garbage cans, and are urged to harvest fruit from trees, and not let it fall to the ground.

With the older children, I read a news report about a black bear in Missoula, that had to be euthanized (a new vocabulary word for the children), this month, because even after it was relocated to the woods, it returned to town, and was progressing from getting into garbage cans, to breaking into garages. Although bears can find what they need to live in town, they are not a good mix with people.

From what we read, the bears, in our area, are feeding right now, storing up for winter, and should be "hibernating" by Halloween. Which brings me to next week's project...but you'll have to wait for that.

Be sure to check out the other Science Sunday projects, and adventures at this week's link-up, at Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

We had a bear once that was roaming the area and it caused quit a stir as it was the only one we have ever heard of in this area. Seems he got out of bear territory and got totally lost. Poor thing.

Debbie said...

We have bear not far from us and I love it when we can come across their paw prints, except when we stumble across where it appears to be their den. Then I get a little nervous.

Annette W. said...

Living in the country that type of thing was normal, but I wouldn't like it in town...much scarier!

Marcee said...

Very interesting!!!

Ticia said...

Deer and the like are common here, but a bear! That's impressive.

Sarah Christina said...

I love you guys and following your adventures! Thank you for these lovely windows into your learning!

Jennifer Johnson said...

Wow! How cool is that! And I love that someone else takes photos of scat. I do that, too, and everyone else thinks I'm crazy.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

This is really fascinating that you can get so close to bears. I've run into some while hiking in New Jersey - also pretty close to small towns, but not directly in front of the library. And I like how you followed up with discussion about bear diet and what happens when bears and people mix. We had a similar discussion here - simply based on Anna's questions about bears.