Friday, June 6, 2014

Mom and the Kids

There’s a small section of the Big Woods where, over the last ten years, I’ve seen and/or gotten photos of a fairly small female black bear that has on multiple occasions given birth to three or more cubs.

The last time I checked one of my camera traps in the Big Woods it had a sequence of photos of a female black bear (possibly the one that’s produced so many offspring) and three cubs reacting to beaver castoreum* that had been painted on a fallen limb. In all, there were well over 80 pictures showing them rolling and laying on the branch.

In the sequence of photos one cub seems fairly indifferent to the odor while the other two spend quite some time at the branch. 

The castoreum has attracted a good variety of wildlife: Two days before Mom and the Kids appeared, it was a male bear –

Nine days after the female and the cubs visited there was a day of heavy rain with 5 ¼ inches in the rain gauge at our house, then lighter rains on several subsequent days.  As much rain as fell that day, it apparently didn’t affect the attraction of the castoreum. The rain didn’t keep a white-tailed deer from stopping on the day of heavy rain –

Very early in the morning of the sixth day after the heavy rain, when it was again raining, another bear stopped to smell the branch and was photographed through a rain-smeared lens –

That night two raccoons visited –

Four days later a porcupine ambled up –

The odor of beaver castoreum is obviously irresistible to a wide variety of mammals. 

* Beaver castoreum is produced by beavers’ anal glands and is used by beavers to mark their territories.

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