Paw prints in the mud, turned over rocks, caves, and poop. I thought at any moment we would look up from our water bar inventory to a charging bear. Maybe it would be a mama bear and cubs, or perhaps a lone male coming down the hill. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately?) we saw only signs of bears in the woods that day.
A couple of weeks later we were out on another property looking at water quality Best Management Practices with a Forestry professor from SUNY-ESF. He was walking on the trail fifty feet ahead of me and stopped because we heard someone coming. I called out, “Hello! Hello!”, but there was no answer save for the stomp, stomp of large feet continuing down the trail. The professor got to the intersection and stopped. “Wow…”, he said. It was the largest black bear he’d ever seen in the East.
Another day, while driving home from Mink Hollow, we saw something large and black lumbering across a stream. We slowed to a crawl and were rewarded with the sight of a bear crossing the road about twenty feet in front of us. The coat was the deepest black and amazingly glossy.
Almost finished with the summer field season and despairing of ever seeing a bear in the woods, we met a landowner who said there were two bears that lived on the property. We walked among berry bushes, grazing as we tallied water bars and looked for signs of eroding trails. Then we heard the sound of a large animal moving through the brush. I went about fifty feet further along the trail and looked into the trees on the hillside. I saw a black bear’s head, about thirty feet up a tree and moving down the trunk toward the ground. I softly called and motioned to my field research partner, but by the time she made it to where I was standing, the bear was nowhere to be seen. For safety’s sake, I belted out a song to the unseen bear(s), but we never even heard them again. Guess they didn’t like my song.
Bear paw print in mud
Rocks overturned by hungry bears
Black bear crossing the road