Could Bearly Sleep

August 30, 2016  •  2 Comments
No, it wasn't my roommate's snoring or the trains shaking the hotel every half hour that kept me from getting much sleep on Tuesday night, August 16th.  It was the anxiety of getting up early to spend the day photographing around 40 black bears in a 2 acre field, during a full moon to boot!  That evening during our bear safety instructions at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, we were told to stay at least 10 feet away from the bears, but do the bears know that rule?  All night I just kept reminding myself to stay calm and they will not jump on me.
 
Up CloseUp CloseVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
 
Here's a little history of the wildlife sanctuary:
 
Vince Shute and his loggers lived in these remote north woods in Orr, MN where black bears, attracted by the smells of food, became a nuisance. Out of fear, the men solved this problem by shooting the bears, but after three decades, Vince began to question the killing. Having observed the animals, Vince came to the conclusion that “The bears weren’t mean – only hungry.” In the early 70s, to prevent bears from breaking into the cabins, he put food out in the meadow area to see if that would keep them away. In today’s world, we now know that Vince was wrong to start feeding wild bears, but he was ahead of his time in seeking a means of coexistence.

A special relationship developed between Vince and the bears. By the mid-eighties, Vince became known as “The Bear Man.” A growing number of people came to witness the amazing relationship between Vince and “his” bears.  Even today, when the bears are in the two-acre meadow they accept the presence of people. Outside of this area they revert back to their normally wild and elusive ways, exhibiting their natural fear of humans.

Capturing the Black BearCapturing the Black BearVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
On Wednesday morning at 6:30 AM, Rich and I entered the field of black bears eating out of many piles of food (corn, nuts, fruits and vegetables) and began our day of observing "wild" black bears' daily behavior and capturing great images of them.
 
 
Mom and CubMom and CubVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
There were a handful of mother bears with their cubs.  Of course, we knew not to get between them.
 
 
Twin Cubs Hanging OutTwin Cubs Hanging OutVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
The cubs spend most of their day in the trees where it is safe from the male black bears.
 
 
That's a Long Way DownThat's a Long Way DownVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
However, occasionally they climb down...
 
 
Got Milk?Got Milk?Vince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
to get some milk from mom..
 
 
Rock ClimbingRock ClimbingVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
and play on rocks.
 
 
That's My Food!That's My Food!Vince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
On occasion we would see some of the adults growl over food...
 
 
RRRRRRRRRRVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
and the cubs fight over the best limb in the tree.
 
 
Coming in from the ForestComing in from the ForestVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
I enjoyed the challenge of capturing the image of a black bear in the wild...
 
 
Keeping WatchKeeping WatchVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
and some close-ups using my Canon 100-400mm lens.
 
 
Up CloseUp CloseVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
Eventually, Rich and I discovered that staying in the grassy areas in the field, off the paths made by the bears, is the best way of preventing a stand-off between man and bear.
 
 
Papa Bear Quenching His ThirstPapa Bear Quenching His ThirstVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
On this 80 degree sunny day, black bears like to cool off in the water and keep hydrated.

Feeding TimeFeeding TimeVince Shutte Wildlife Sanctuary on August 17, 2016
Just before 5:00 PM, the bears know that dinner is coming.  By then I had taken about 1,200 digital photos.  After this long, enlightening day with lack of sleep, I appreciated Rich driving all 5 hours home.

See all my favorite images here: Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

 

 


Comments

Alan Boucher Photography
Thanks Bob!
Bob(non-registered)
Very nicely written and excellent pictures.
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