No first issue of Nature News Notes at the beginning of the summer season would be complete without a bear story. Fortunately this season we will not have far to go for bear story "meat" as the "making" of the best bear stories, cubs, are especially abundant.
Brownie, bad girl, cub of four years ago made her annual appearance some days ago at Longmire with triplets. Brownie is brown as her name indicates, two of her cubs are coal black and the third is buckskin. Brownie and her brother Blackie were the famous twins of the Power Plant on the Paradise River. Blackie stayed with his mother and later grew up to be a respectable citizen of Paradise Valley and vicinity, but Brownie remained by the "flesh pots" of the Power Plant and became a "tame bear", or in the language of the Park, a "Garbage Can Bear". Later she moved to the mining camp at the foot of Eagle Peak and with that as a base began to patrol the highway and the various auto and construction camps. Soon she became known as a hold-up bear and a bad one. Now she has cubs and has returned to the road camp at Longmire.
Teddy is the real damp pet this season. Teddy is an orphan and no-one wants to adopt him, although at various times he has adopted almost everyone in camp. Teddy is a fine "show bear" but an awful poor neighbor. Many of the children of the community have scratches on their legs indicative of Teddy's rough playfulness. He is a cut little black cub but that don't make his teeth or claws any less sharp.
On the first day after the Naturalist had returned to duty in the Park he was sitting at his typewriter when he saw a round black head thrust around the corner of the door. Teddy slid in and made for a pile of groceries stacked temporarily beneath the table. He set his claws into a sack of flour and refused to budge. I reached for the scuff of his neck and he chewed my hand. I got a broom and he chewed it. I had to move the table and the groceries one by one in order to remove the bear.
Bears sometimes adopt and care for orphaned cubs but Brownie shows no more inclination to adopt Teddy than the rest of us do. When the two meet, as they often do about the Government Mess house, Brownie immediately puts her cubs up the nearest tree and then she proceeds to put Teddy up a tree. What's more, he stays put until she has had her dinner and excused herself.
Why does a bear growl when he chews his foot? The question was asked the Naturalist recently. The Naturalist did not know and said so, but he immediately launched a thorough investigation in an endeavor to find out.
He has reached a decision. The answer is "Egotism". Teddy weighs about twenty pounds, but Teddy thinks he is a big bold bear, (So long as Brownie is not about.) When Teddy can find no other legs that will submit to being gnawed he gnaws his own. Sitting back on the rear third of his spinal column Teddy makes a great show of chewing his paw. Actually he does very little chewing but a great show of growling. The whole show is intended to be impressive. It is, "Look at me", he says, "G-rrr, I'm a bad bear".
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