Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bear necessities

My first night camping in Alaska, twenty six years ago, I heard what sounded like an express train coming through the woods outside my tent. It stopped suddenly, and there was quiet again. Then a rustle. Then quiet.

For maybe five minutes the sounds continued, just beyond the canvas. Then the creature moved off. The next morning, I found bear tracks the size of dinner plates in the soft ground around the tent and under the tree where I had stashed my food. You don't share a tent with food in bear country, if you've any sense. The bear had obviously tried to get at the cache up in the branches, and pretty much ignored me. That could easily have saved my life.

Grizzly bears are shy creatures, though I did meet someone who watched one chase a moose through his garden as he sat eating breakfast. That's rare, but not unknown.

On Sunday, a resident of Homer, Alaska, filmed a grizzly bear killing a moose in his driveway, and eating the heart. Don't click if you're too squeamish.

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