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480 Otis in his office Snapshot by CamOp Nan

480 Otis in his office Snapshot by CamOp Nan

Bearcam Week in Review October 18, 2019

Hi and welcome to our weekly Bear Cam blog. We will be publishing this blog every week with a review of the previous weeks Bear Cam highlights. Brought to you by your bear cam Mods, LaniH and GABear. This weeks highlight video can be viewed here.

Most bears disperse away from Brooks River by mid October as salmon become less and less abundant, according to a comment by Mike Fitz.  We are certainly seeing that trend with bear sightings at the falls and riffles area. We saw only 3 adult male bears this week and one sow with cubs.  Most of our sightings have been subadults. Mike’s comment continued:

“The peak of the sockeye spawning season is September so with each passing day, there are fewer salmon in the river. We can still see bears at the river well into November, just a lot fewer of them. The bears who have departed may try to find another place to fish, but Brooks River is one of the last places where bears can find salmon this late in the year. I suspect when bears leave the river in October, many of them are beginning their slow journey toward their denning area.”

Read about bear hibernation in this blog by Mike Fitz.

Even though we did not see a lot of bears, we did note that there were still salmon attempting to jump the falls!   Here are Mike’s thoughts on this:

“…..From what I’ve seen on the falls cam so far this month, while there are lots of salmon jumping they are not making the leap successfully. They appear to be mostly sockeye, so they probably lack the energy to make the jump at this stage in their lives. My suspicion is that they are fish who are looking for the right place to spawn near the falls. I also suspect that the large escapement in the Naknek River watershed has influenced the behavior of salmon below the falls. Maybe spawning conditions downstream of the falls are crowded enough that some salmon would like to find more room upstream.”

lone salmon jumping an empty falls Snapshot by pkilborn

lone salmon jumping an empty falls Snapshot by pkilborn

274 Overflow was seen near the falls earlier this week.

274 Overflow Snapshot by Phillydude

274 Overflow Snapshot by Phillydude

32 Chunk also put in an early morning appearance.

32 Chunk Snapshot by kcanada

32 Chunk Snapshot by kcanada

480 Otis was fishing below the falls just about every day until October 13. He seemed to gain weight before our eyes, looking much bigger now than when he was scanned in September and when the photos for the Fat Bear Contest were taken.  He could have been gaining 2-4 pounds per day! His time at the falls was quite successful. He was catching a lot of salmon in his office and in the jacuzzi.

480 Otis with a nice catch Snapshot by merry_mermaid

480 Otis with a nice catch Snapshot by merry_mermaid

Sometimes he had the falls to himself, but often there were a number of subadults around him looking to catch a fish, pick up scraps, or in the case of these two play.

480 Otis uninterrupted by subadults playing  Snapshot by Blair-55

480 Otis uninterrupted by subadults playing Snapshot by Blair-55

The other adult bear seen this week was sow 402 with her three yearling cubs.  They made a couple of appearances on the falls and riffles cams. The 3 cubs that looked so skinny in early summer are now fat and sporting thick winter coats.

402 and her cubs in the riffles Snapshot by Duska

402 and her cubs in the riffles Snapshot by Duska

402 again showed her diving skills during one visit to the falls.  She is quite a good diving bear and disappeared into the depths of the jacuzzi in search of fish.  She wasn’t successful this time, but often she is successful with this fishing technique. You can read and watch more about 402’s diving – as well as that of other bears who have been seen diving – at this link

402 diving in the Jacuzzi while her cubs watch Snapshot by lindaloumn

402 diving in the Jacuzzi while her cubs watch Snapshot by lindaloumn

When watching the riffles cam, we’ve noted a lot of salmon in a shallow area near the platform.

salmon in the riffles Snapshot by Corrwest

salmon in the riffles Snapshot by Corrwest

Subadult 907 has been fishing in that area and used this interesting technique of leaping off a leaning tree trunk trying to snag a fish. Watch how successful he is in this video.

fishing

Another subadult caught a fish near the falls and as it bit through the fish we got a view of the milt (sperm) squirting out.

salmon

A cam op took control of the Dumpling Mountain cam one day and gave us some great close up views of the Mountain and surrounding area.  Some years, we’ve seen bears walking on the mountainside on that cam, but we didn’t find any that day. We did, however, note some bears moving around in the Lower River near the spit area when the cam zoomed in there.  They were really just dark specs, but we knew they were bears from their movements in and out of the river. :-) To see more about Dumpling Mountain, check this blog by Mike Fitz about his hike up the mountain.

view of lower river from Dumpling Mtn Snapshot by Corrwest

view of lower river from Dumpling Mtn Snapshot by Corrwest

We saw a wolf on cam twice this week.  One hurried by the falls viewing platform, and one was seen further downriver from the riffles near the cutbank area.

bear and wolf near the cutbank Snapshot by lsearls

bear and wolf near the cutbank Snapshot by lsearls

A nice view of a Bald Eagle was caught on cam on Wednesday.

Bald Eagle Snapshot by Debi

Bald Eagle Snapshot by Debi

We also saw an eagle dive into the water from the riffles and falls cam then swim to the island with its catch.

eagle swimming to the island with its catch Snapshot by CamOp Paula

eagle swimming to the island with its catch Snapshot by CamOp Paula

Thursday morning we were treated with a snowy view of Dumpling Mountain. Notice the tracks in the snow. Viewers wondered if they could be made by a wolverine or a ground squirrel.  Mike Fitz commented with his thoughts later:

“I’m still not 100% percent sure what animal may have made the tracks in the snow near the cam. However, the tracks are too small to be a bear. The tracks are also not from a person, moose, or caribou. Ground squirrels are in the dens hibernating by now and their tracks would be much smaller. The gait provides some clues though. Since the tracks are meandering and seem to indicate the animal was exploring and searching. My best guess is that they are from a wolverine.”

Dumpling Mountain covered in snow Snapshot by CamOp Greg

Dumpling Mountain covered in snow Snapshot by CamOp Greg

Favorite Bearcam Moment

As the end of the season gets closer, we’re wondering about your Favorite Moments of the season.  We chose 20 possibilities at this link and you can go and vote for your top three choices.

 

Share your Fan Art!

Have you ever made a bear cam inspired painting, illustration, poem, animation, or other creative piece? We’d love to see it. Email us at social@explore.org to enter our Bear Cam Fan Art contest. We’re awarding prizes all week and featuring our favorite submissions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

Fat Bear Week Finale Chat

 

Bearcam viewer Survey

Just how important is an individual animal? How might the famous bearcam bears influence conservation efforts? Mike Fitz talks about this survey here.

Please help us answer those questions and more by taking this survey.   

 

Are You There Brown Bear

Mike Fitz has launched a Community Science Project where your snapshot can help monitor information about the bears you see on the cams.

This community science project will supplement the Brooks River bear monitoring program by recording observations of bears during and outside official monitoring sessions, essentially extending one aspect of the bear monitoring program through an entire summer and beyond as long as the webcams are functioning.

To participate: After taking a Snapshot, click on “Community Science” below the snapshot.

community science

The 2019 Bears of Brooks River ebook is available for downloading here.

 

  • altalinda

    Thank you for the summary! I miss so many of the events as they happen that I really appreciate learning what happened from you.

  • heather kennie

    Hello Mike Fitz. What do you do during the long winter season?

  • Carolyn Jenkins

    This is so great. I, too, miss a lot. Really nice to be able to come here and learn. Raised a black bear cub at park in Hanna City, IL. Loved that li’l guy! Many great pictures of us.

  • darrendemers

    The other adult bear seen this week was sow 402 with her three yearling cubs. They made a couple of appearances on the falls and riffles cams. The 3 cubs that looked so skinny in early summer are now fat and sporting thick winter coats.
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