Adolescent Bears Make the Most Trouble. Kinda Like Humans…

Teenagers today! Kicked out of the den at two years old and they think the world is theirs.

Big deal, the 200,000 acres of Shenandoah National Park are at bear capacity with a bear every square mile. So, you have to fend for yourself and find your own territory (20-30 mile radius for male, 5-10 for female with a cub). It’s part of growing up. That doesn’t give you the right to enter campgrounds. No sir. When I was your age I had to walk to school backwards, uphill, both ways.

Bear sign at Shenandoah National Park Show Thyself. Please.

This really is bear country. Although I (sadly) only saw a scampering tush climbing a hill.

When checking into the campground I had to sign that I was aware of bears and would store my food properly, not approach them, not dress them in costume.

In 1976 the National Park Service installed the fancy trash cans with lids and latches to keep the bears from gorging themselves. Before that they kept the cans open because it was a spectacle to see the bears. And spectacle = tourists = money.

They also began to train the bears to stay away from humans. Rangers make noise around bears, showing them that people aren’t fun. If a bear isn’t daunted, the rangers shoot them with beanbags or paintballs. Ouch, but no wounds. STILL in people-places: tranquilizer and relocated. But the savvy bears can find their way back over hundreds of miles. This is THEIR territory. Last resort: lethal removal of those who are aggressive. This doesn’t happen often, if at all.

The bears do get demerits. The more of a nuisance you are, the more tags in your ear. Then they know which of the above approaches to take with you. I wish we had those kind of marks for dating–then I could know who to avoid right from the start.

The Bear Necessities

When born, a bear can fit in the palm of your hand. As a juvenile it’s 150 pounds, and the record adult is 700 pounds.

If you come across a bear, fight your instinct and don’t run. They can run 30 mph. Can you?

Their nasal opening is 20x as large as a humans and they can actually smell the contents of canned goods! Hence, putting away your food.

Hibernation Habits

70 per cent of bears of den in trees! They find crevices, crawl up, and stuff the family in. Cozy. The highest known is 30 feet above ground!

Mating happens in August, in order to give birth in the winter in the den. So smart. They’re monogamous for the season, but ultimately males are solitary and after hibernation away they go. Was it something I said?

They have no home during the summer. They roam their territory and cop a squat when tired. Kinda like me on this trip…

The Beauty of Shenandoah National Park

This is a driving and hiking park. Both of which are grand, but it’s different from, say, Yellowstone where there’s destinations.

Attached to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive is a glorious 105 miles of views that are rich with trees and hazed by the mining and manufacturing in the valley below. Shenandoah is the most visited area of National Parkland with 20 million roadtrippers per year. And amazingly, at times the park is only a mile wide.

Because it was a driving-oriented trip, it reminded me of my visit to the Smoky Mountains a few years back.

Take a look at this: all one vista. Ahh.

Shenandoah National Park

Tree growing out of Rock at Shenandoah National ParkHow DOES your Garden Grow?

It’s incredible to see trees growing out of rock. The determination of nature…

Nature’s Glory

Take a look at the slideshow of flowers to sunsets. All’s right with the world. Click the pic to advance to the next image.

Which animal encounters have you had?

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Truly beautiful vistas. Thanks for the bare bear education; I’ll stay away, thank you very much. Glorious photos. Your descriptions make me want to travel more.

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