Nature Notes

Vol. IX January, 1931 No. 1


All the bears are now tucked in for their regular winter's sleep - that is all but one. At least he was the proverbial exception to this rule a few days ago though by the time you read this even he probably has hibernated. At any rate his stubborness in this regard was probably prompted by the continued handouts that were available at the hotel. One might say that this illustrates a principle that applies to human beings as well. For where food is plentiful and the weather mild, such as along the shores of Puget Sound at the lower elevations, bears do not hibernate -- or at least their winter's sleep is fitful -- during the winter. Where the weather is severe during the winter and food scarce as is the case on "The Mountain" bears hibernate ever the lean period. Such is probably the case with this stubborn bear who found an easy food supply in the garbage cans back of the hotel, so he remained awake for a much longer period than customary.

Thus in the old days when pioneer hardships were the rule the settlers looked warily to winter and made plans accordingly, accumulating and storing up necessary foodstuffs for that lean period. Now, in most parts of our country, with transportation facilities well developed and other methods by which food and clothing may be readily and easily obtained most of us do not feel the necessity of "putting down" various sorts of foods or storing up large quantities of edibles for winter use. There is usually a grocery store where necessities for our tables may be obtained. So, in a measure even we do not, like the bear mentioned, find it necessary to "hibernate" as did our forefathers in the early days.

Some time ago, when the new power line was being constructed along the Nisqually River bar, one of the linemen had a very interesting experience. It had been snowing for several weeks. The ground was well covered. The bears had either hibernated or were busy looking for suitable dens. One of the men, preceding the general crew, climbed to the top of a large prostrate fir log and leaped to the ground on the other side -- and immediately found himself in the midst of a sudden snowstorm. For a bear had chosen the overhanging sides of the giant trunk as a place to spend the winter and the snows had completely covered him up, obscuring him from view. Imagine the lineman's surprise when the impact of his body, as he jumped to the ground, suddenly caused the snowdrift at his side to rise in a variety of contortions that would have done credit to a minor earthquake. And then imagine his consternation when from amid the maelstrom of flying snow emerged the form of an angry bear. At least we suppose he was angry for who likes to be awakened in such a manner from the beginning of a sound sleep? My informant neglected to go into much detail regarding the actions of the lineman when the significance of the situation dawned upon him. However, we will leave that part of the episode to your own imagination.


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