Canaan Valley Bear Sighting
A juvenile black bear ran in front of my vehicle today at 3 pm on Route 32 just before the Canaan Institute parking area (almost to Davis). Thankfully, I did not hit it, but was surprised. This was my first bear sighting in the Canaan Valley area since 2001. I know the populations are increasing and see signs of them everywhere (scat mainly), but it was nice to finally see one live. Made my day. Anyone else have any recent bear sightings in WV?
Almost the exact same thing happened to me about 7pm one evening when coming back from Moorefield. This was before Corridor H was open and I had just come down off of those three really sharp turns before heading back up the other ridge. It's the spot where that tiny little church is at the bottom.
Anyway I was coming down to that little dip and a fully grown adult black bear ran across the road and I slammed on the breaks. I get the feeling hitting that would have been like hitting a steer in the road, neither would have been plesant. This was a few years ago. Haven't seen any since.
If you want bears, go to Heartstone Lake west of Harrisonburg. Also a good spot for coyotes and some utterly deep, lonely, isolated hiking. Most isolated place I've ever hiked in the Mid-A. I loved every minute of it, even the thunderstorms two consecutive nights in a row. But bear... my gosh it's like they own the place.
Spent a week at our place in North Face (at Timberline) last week. Got a message from the HOA before we went up about frequent bear sightings in the neighborhood. People are still leaving garbage in cans outside their houses up there despite instructions not to, which brings in the bears. One apparently tore some siding off a house trying to get into a kitchen window recently according to the HOA letter. Anyway, after several evenings of dog walks without seeing one, my wife, her sister and four kids were walking our dogs up Salamander and came almost nose to nose with two small-to-medium cubs checking out the deck of one of the houses near the base. No sign of mama, but the cubs wandered through North Face checking for garbage cans and ended up knocking one over behind the house across the street from us. Later that night I was using the wifi access outside Timbers Pub when one of the cubs strolled into the parking lot and stayed quite a while. Some people who had been at Timbers for several rounds were opening bags of chips in the parking lot for the cub, teaching him that people mean a steady food supply. Guess they haven't heard the "fed bear is a dead bear" motto up there quite yet. Thrilling to see the cub, sad to see its treatment.
Last December I was in the hot tub on our deck about 11PM, after we had grilled a salmon for dinner. We had scraped the grill pretty well and set it on high heat to burn off the scent, but sure enough after a nice soak I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and turned around to see an adult bear on the deck between me and the door to the house, getting ready to check out the grill. He noticed me just after I saw him and I'm sure he was as surprised as I was-- he took off for the woods and I headed back in the house for another drink (that one was a double).
Two weeks ago there were multiple bear sightings in Timberline HOA. The first was a 500lb adult who entered someone's garage off Mountainside road and spent the afternoon eating dog food he found in there. Later, he apparently went around back of the house and stretched out on the deck to finish off the bird feeder. A cub was sighted later that evening.
What I have heard - bear experts and RogerZ feel free to confirm or deny - is that the bears are on a 3 year cycle. After birthing, mama will keep her cubs with her for 3 years before kicking them off on their own. That sets up an active period where the mamas are free to go looking for love, the males catch on to that quickly and are happy to oblige. On top of that, you have all these adolescent bear cubs on the loose trying to find their own territory for the first time. We are supposedly at the end of one of these 3 year cycles this year in Canaan.
I haven't had any first-hand sightings this year. 2 years ago I spotted one though the fog as he loped across 93 just outside Davis. The year before we saw one settled in a meadow off 32 near CVSP. When we first saw the house we eventually bought, there was mud sweared up high on one of the glass doors - we figured it must have been from a bear peaking in the house one evening.
I'm not sure about the three year cycle part of it but summer is definitely the time of the year that the cubs get kicked out. They may be three years old when they get kicked out. It's also mating season. Here's
an article about it and all the bear sightings in Montgomery (Virginia) county recently. There was actually a bear that managed to wander all the way into downtown Roanoke a few weeks ago. A year ago, maybe two, one stumbled into a hospital in Franklin county. Sadly, they shot that one as it cowered in a doctor's office.
That would make sense because this is the same time of year that many young birds fledge from the nest. Birders enjoy poking around the woods, watching the action and trying to identify juveniles. What surprises me about the bears is that I spend a lot of time in the woods at CV, being very quiet in earth tone clothes, trying to find rare birds, and have never encountered a bear. I guess all the bears are around Timberline, where the food is. Someone will probably have to get injured before the situation changes. Last year, I talked to a WV Department of Natural Resources official who was setting bear traps near Wintersett. I suspect more trapping will have to occur and perhaps some more enforcement of trash regulations, by HOAs and perhaps by the the Tucker County Sheriff's dept. Northwoods/Northface had to move its compactor operations to Mountaintop Realty because of the illegal dumping issue. Trash is definitely a problem in CV and it is only getting worse with the influx of more people.
What surprises me about the bears is that I spend a lot of time in the woods at CV, being very quiet in earth tone clothes, trying to find rare birds, and have never encountered a bear.
Bears have poor eyesight and a super keen sense of smell. Ever read Dr' Seuss' "The Big Brag"? What you wear and how quiet you are doesn't make as much difference as what you smell like - and to a bear you smell like a person and not like food.
I'm like you, I've spent a lot of time in the woods but have never had a bear sighting. The closest I've come was some bear track Roger and I followed last fall.
I'm not sure how much trapping they like to do. I like the quote in the article I linked in my previous post. When a resident of the outskirts of Blacksburg complained of a bear in his yard and asked to have him moved to the forest the game warden replied "he is in the forest".
to a bear you smell like a person and not like food.
Amen... and let's keep it that way!
All I know about bears is that the young ones roam in the spring. That and what Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report taught me: they are godless killing machines.
I've seen bears in odd places - by the side of the road, crossing the road - but never on a hike in the woods. Closest I've come was hiking in the Otter Creek Wilderness a few years back. I remember coming to an area of trail where there were lots of bear signs - scat, prints - and my dog getting very very cautious as we hiked on. We reached a fire road along the side of a mountain and were hiking along when we heard the sound of something big crashing quickly up the side of the mountain towards the road we were on. My wife wanted to wait to get a picture of the bear when he crested the road - I had no desire to see the bear and advised skedaddling. Fortunately I prevailed. Speaking of funny bear stories - anyone ever read Bill Bryson's "A Walk In the Woods"? The beginning of the book is just hilarious when he writes all about his fears of bears, misquitos, snakes, etc....
I came across a bear hiking while doing an off-trail ascent (illegally) on Old Rag Mountain once. I mistook the bear for a squirrel at first (it's true, I swear). She was moving perpendicular to me, about 50 yards ahead, weighed roughly 150 pounds, and seemed to give less than a rip whether I was there or not.
One of the top two or three most exhilirating things that's ever happened to me in the wilderness.
Perhaps appropriately, Black Bear Resort had a serious bear problem several years ago. Not sure the final count but 2 or 3 bears routinely dined on the feast offered by our very open large trash bin. In fact I would load my girls in the Explorer and park near the bin around sunset and watch the bear as it sidled up for a meal. Predictably, the bears eventually found their way to the houses, climbing up on the decks and trying to enter the houses in search of even more delectable items. One even interrupted a poker game in progress. Another, alas, was shot and a few others trapped and removed to more remote locations. We now has a much more secure trash bin, the staff is very good about removing the trash left at the road by the occupants, and I haven't spotted a bear on the property for several years.
I am sure I am not the only one who has dined at what is now Coyotes and watched the bear wonder by the big windows on the way to the trash bin. It was our main reason for partonizing the place. I don't think it does that any longer but might be wrong.
Finally, while I have yet to see one, I recently bought property at the top of the mountain on the north side of the valley going toward Davis. I was told by the neighbors that we have a very visible bear on the property.
I had one cross in front of me on Timberline Road this past Friday at about 1 pm. It looked to be about 200 lbs or so. I've also seen one at our property on Mtn Side and one on 93 near the Tucker/Grant line this summer. About 3 years back one tore down our birdfeeders from a 10' tall 6x6 on Mtn Side.
The first summer we had our place up in Canaan, a carpenter we hired took one look at our bird feeders and said "Y'all must like bears." Since then the feeders only go up after New Years and come down the last weekend we ski Timberline in March/April.
Not my pictures but these will give you some idea how much bears like bird seed...
Me, the wife, and kids were camping at Blackwater Falls State Park first week or so this July. I was biking the Dobbin House Trail and stopped to check my map. I heard something to my left, looked up, and saw a bear about 60 yards away ambling through the brush towards me. (Its head was down and I'm sure it wasn't even aware that I was there.) Needless to say, I made a beeline out of there (until I sunk in the muck, then I threw the bike on my shoulder and ran!!).
I've since had people tell me "there's nothing to worry about with bears, you should have stayed and watched it" but I can't fight that "fight or flight" response. Bears, when I've come across them in the woods and its just me and them, just seem so freakin' powerful.
You aint seen a bear till uve seen a North Carolina Swamp Bear!!! Word....
You aint seen a bear till uve seen a North Carolina Swamp Bear!!! Word....
For a real swamp bear, find you a Louisiana Black Bear. My wife saw one when she was in Vet School at LSU. It got hit by a car and needed a little dental work. They ended up putting it in a zoo. Apparently it had more than just a tooth knocked loose.
Largest black bear ever killed was in the Poconos. Weighed in at 900 pounds or something like that. I hear the climate for black bears is ideal there, and the folks from Norfolk swear there's some monsters out in the Great Dismal Swamp, too. It always interested me that the black bears in the Poconos (and possibly in the Great Dismal Swamp) are larger than the black bears in Alaska... probably a lot more "domesticated" too.