Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bear Country

It is curious that, in the middle of our immediate world, there is much yet to learn. So here I am in the middle of bear country and I know very little about bears. This week I stumbled upon people who make a point knowing about bears.

When the AGM of the Kaslo Chamber of Commerce started, I was talking to a couple and so we all sat down together. After the short, well-planned AGM, we started talking. Julius and Kristin who own Grizzly Bear Ranch,offer grizzly and black bear-viewing holidays in the midst of pristine wilderness. They are quite committed to learning about bears, and being respectful to all the wild animals that share their space.

Here's what I learned about bears:

- It is difficult to tell the difference between a male and a female bear. One of the ways to tell is how they pee. Males stream at an angle while females are more or less vertical.

- Bears mate from mid-June to mid-July. Once the egg is fertilized, the embryo has a "delayed implantation." In November, if the bear is in shape (has enough reserves), then the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall and the embryo grows for approximately 2 months. The babies, usually 2 to 3 in a litter, are born in February while their mama is hibernating.

- Each mother bear has 6 teats - 4 on the upper chest and 2 on her abdomen. The bottom 2 allow the cubs to nurse when she is "sleeping," and her arms are enfolded to keep her warm.

- During the hibernation period, the bear's body recycles nutrients which allows it not to lose muscle tone. Julius and I had a discussion about what would happen to humans if they slept for 5 or 6 months - our muscles would atrophy.

We had a lovely evening, visiting with Kasloites in the new Kaslo Hotel, recently renovated though the building has been around since 1896. With views facing Kootenay Lake, it is a compelling draw.

The next day I was scheduled for the Kaslo Career Fair, so I decided to stay overnight. I stayed at Rocky Ledges Bed and Breakfast, which is just south of Mirror Lake, about 15 minutes from Kaslo. My gracious hosts were Maggie and Steve. Like Julius and Kristin, they are in their second year providing accommodation, having moved from far away and falling under the spell of the Kootenays.

When we arrived at the B&B, it was dark, but the next morning, this is what I saw out my patio windows...

On a warmer day, I would have been tempted to stay put.

No comments: