Tag Archives: bears

A Farewell to Arms

Where giants have walked, apparently

Well, my field season is finally over. This was the last year of this incarnation of the Bear DNA project round these parts, and we had a good run, but the end was bittersweet. Taking down all of the barbed wire and nails and such from trees in which they’ve been embedded in for four years necessitated semi-Herculean efforts.

And also sound effects. A whole lot of sound effects. And talking to those trees. And yourself. And cursing all things metal. And cursing the very tall people who put the tags in too high. And cursing the trees themselves, but then feeling really guilty and taking back those particular curses, and putting a bare palm against the sticky, hairy truck and apologizing.

A person walking down the trail blindfolded may have thought one of many things:

(1) that an Olympic dead-weight lifter had moved to the area to train;

(2) that James Brown was back from the dead and enjoying more rustic huh-hahs;

(3) that George Carlin was back from the dead and testing new cussing combinations;

(4) that a sadistic dentist was administering a root canal (just relax, help me, help you…):

or (5), that a deeply conflicted Smeagol was waging a schizophrenic war of morality…
(f*#k you!…I’m sorry…dammit!…it’s okay…arrghgh!…sorry, sorry, sorry)…

In short, the whole process turned each of us into a bit of a weirdo.

Cleaning up the forest

Meanwhile, such efforts worked their physical magic on our bodies… making us that much more tired at the end of the day. Our arms, so accustomed to hanging uselessly at our sides all summer, were finally called to… um, arms… as it were. They got all strong. They developed lines and bulges we’d never seen before. They lead us to delusions of grandeur–mainly day dreams of careers in arm-wrestling or can-crushing or ripping off doorknobs for fun. But we asked too much of the poor lazy things. They got tired, weak. They began to rebel… went numb while we slept, hands curling into clawed shapes. They started to seriously complain when lifted above chest-level. They did not want to help remove so much sap from our hair. They started talking to our knees, who got all cranky again, and began to imitate crumpled cellophane and creaky stairs and Rice Krispies freshly doused in milk.

Then the weather got in on the torment. Snow then rain then slush then rain then snow. 60 mile and hour wind gusts pushing us backward, tearing maps from our hands, and slamming car doors with authority. Cold air freezing our shoes and toes and fingers and noses. All of it briskly escorting us out of the woods. Call it a night, folks. And then we were done.

And while a week later I am still enjoying the fact that the decision to venture out into the wintry mix is now optional, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it already. I guess I’ll be seeing you around, bears. Enjoy your long nap. I think I’ll have one too.

Winter Is Coming

The Starks were right.

And I heard from the trees a great parade

All things go, all things go

Be still and know your sign

I’ll put you right in it, I’ll show you the sky

Dreamlike, on account of that frosting

The sweet delights of a wild funnel cake
If you’ve got the patience, celebrate the ancients

And we laughed at the beatitudes of a thousand lines

Figure an hour in for thawing out frozen shoes

Hunting Season is Upon Us

Bad News Bears

As you may or may not know, I am spending another season collecting bear hair in Northwestern Montana. Every so often, whilst we are burgling the fur clumps left on our rub trees, a park visitor pops around the corner and asks if we can tell what kind of bear left that hair? The honest answer is no, not really. Black bears can be any number of colors, and at the end of the day, it is hard to tell for certain their fur from any shade of grizzly, unless it is that deep blue-black hue. That said, we can (more or less) safely say what kind of bear hair we are not collecting. In keeping with a series, here is:

A (partial) Guide to Recognizing Your Bears

File:Darica Brown Bear 00963.jpg 

Brown Bear:
Range: Northern North America, Europe, Asia, Wall Street.
Diet: Lots of vegetation, berries, fruit, carcasses, fish, grubs. Mammals great and small, if it feels like a chase. Grizz eats whatever the hell it wants.

Black Bear:  
Range: Behind you!
Diet: Mostly vegetation, berries, roots, grubs, fruit, honey. Also, carrion, trash, dog food, baking supplies, anything they can get their paws clawed on.

 1920x1440 Swimming polar bear                            
  Polar Bear:
Range: The Arctic.
Diet: Ringed, harbor, bearded, harp, and hooded seals, other blubbery marine mammals, including the occasional beluga whale. I said whale! 
Random fact: The biggest in the family, polar bears are so well insulated their body heat does not register on an infrared devise. This makes them excellent spies.

Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanius)Asiatic Black Bear:
Range: Mountain and tropical forests of Southern Asia, Northeast India, etc.
Diet: See American Black Bear.
Random Fact: These guys are largely nocturnal, and are called Moon Bears because of that crescent-shaped chest bling they sport. Dandies.

Sun bear1 Sun Bear As A Pet
Get it together, Sun!. You look like a Shar Pei with heat stroke.
Sun Bear:
Range: Rain forests in various Southeast Asian countries.
Diet: Typical jungle fare: honey, insects, veg, fruit, rodents.
Random Fact: Rarest. Smallest. Most ornery. Sun bears love slurping up honey and termites with their  crazy long, skinny, semi-creepy tongue.

  ~ ~ ~Intermission~ ~ ~

Sloth Bear
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

  Sloth Bear:
  Range: Forest and grasslands of India,
  Nepal, Bangladesh, etc.
  Diet: Mostly termites and ants (check out
  that schnoz), but anything will do.
  Random Fact: The Sloth Bear’s Lionel
  Ritchie-esque   shaggy faux-mullet ear/neck
  fur help keep little insects away. And that
  ain’t the half of it. They have long tongues,
  can close their nostrils and curl their lips
  over their noses, and lose their front top
  canines,  all to better suck up insects.
  Apparently their aggressive hoovering
  can be heard 300 meters away.

WWF Bolivia
                                      Not amused

  Spectacled Bear:
  Range: Northern and Western South
  Diet: Fallen fruits, palm nuts, orchid
  roots, honey, sugarcane, cactus.
  Random Fact: Closest living relatives
  of the epic Short-Faced Bear of
  Pleistocene fame. Named for face
  markings vaguely reminiscent of
  corrective eye wear.

Ready for my close-up


  Panda Bear:  
   Range: Southeast China. 
   Diet: Bamboooooo! Only bamboo.
   International poster bear for adorable.

care bears Care Bear:   
Range: Kingdom of Caring, Care-A-Lot, the Forest of Feelings, my first-grade birthday cake.                               Diet: Sugared cloud cones, the hopes and dreams of young children, mainlined love.
                                                     Bear Grass:                Range:Western North America                   Diet: Water, sunlight.


Bear Grylls:
Range: Atop Mount Everest, north-Atlantic icebergs, jungle ditches, free falling through mid-air, under piles of leaves, up in trees, on book stands everywhere.  
Diet: Raw organs, insects great and small, urine, deer shit, real vowels, and basically whatever it takes to SURVIVE!

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Gummi Bear:  
Range: Happy bellies and cavity-ridden mouths worldwide.  
Diet: You’re not on one if you’re eating these bears.



The Gay Man’s Bear: 

Range: San Fransisco, Miami, D.C., New York,  Seattle, worldwide. 
Diet: Listen, what a bear eats in the privacy of his own home is no body’s business but his own. 

Walter Payton Chicago Bears NFL Football Sweetness Most Prolific Runningback Running Back MVP Player year NFL Football Player 

Chicago Bear:  
Range: Chicago and fields away. 
Diet: Coors Old Style, chicken wings, deepdish, haters. Just check The Fridge. Ha! Then please, watch this!