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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teton Tuesday: meet your local insurrectionist

This week I would like to introduce you all to a friend of mine. I have come know this inquisitive caniform all too well over the past few months as I have endeavored to systematically record wildlife activity out on the ranch using motion-sensing cameras. The term “friend” might be generous in this case given that I have never actually met this individual and that she (I am not sure of her gender, although I have always considered her a she and will continue to do so in this post) has been actively thwarting my attempts at establishing a consistent grid of survey cameras throughout the most ecologically diverse areas of Tejon. This small, unusual looking black bear is responsible for the early termination of at least four of my cameras (that I know of!) and has come to represent a veritable Angel of Death for any survey camera unlucky enough to lay in her path. The last camera she claimed was ripped from its housing less than three hours after I installed it. She appeared in the first, last, and only video recorded.  

However, for all her mischief she is a very endearing creature. Her white chest and belly contrast a dark overcoat giving her a striking appearance very unusual for a black bear, while her keen interest in my cameras and her frustrating ability to dismantle them suggests a curiosity and dexterity beyond that of her brethren in the area. Black bears have an advanced sense of smell which we believe is attracting them to my cameras. Bears are my biggest obstacle in establishing a reliable network of survey cameras, but this young bear has distinguished herself as the survey’s primary insurgent.

                In retrospect, the absurd thing is my assumption that somehow by painting green leaves on the awkward plastic casing, we were camouflaging the conspicuous mechanical device I had been hiking around in my sweaty backpack all day from wild animals hypersensitive to every nuance of environment they survive in every day. Once again, the wilds of Tejon have served me up a generous serving of humble pie.          
Here she is multitasking with a pig carcass, there's nothing like a good scratch and snack...
This is a good shot of our bear gathering her strength before an afternoon of survey disruption
...doing what she does best!