MetaBears ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ April 5, 2019 6:44 AM   Subscribe

End of another week, let's talk about something else that is not related to politics. I just want to talk about bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica. Black bears, brown bears, polar bears, giant pandas. Bears are awesome. As always, be kind to yourself and to others. We're all fighting a battle that others cannot see. Cheers.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 6:44 AM (77 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Video of baby black bears at my (empty) bird feeder in 2016. Only time I have seen them in the 13 years we have lived here.
posted by terrapin at 6:49 AM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Alaska bears, as posted on MetaFilter sometime last year. Right now the camera's showing baby bears! Squeee!
posted by JanetLand at 6:50 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sometimes, it's nearly unbearable what you can miss when you're not looking (video from a few years ago when someone nearly walked into a bear).
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 6:52 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Giant Panda Cub Fall Compilation- Toronto Zoo [YouTube]

They're so delightfully clumsy. <3
posted by Fizz at 6:53 AM on April 5, 2019

So, I grew up in a town called Bear Lake. My house was on Polar Street. The main road through town, such as it was, was Grizzly Avenue, and the school (now closed) was at the end of it, where it met Cinnamon St. The three short streets were Cub, Panda and Koala. Polar paralleled Kodiak, and turned into Bruin down at the bottom.

Somewhat surprisingly, the restaurant where I worked for awhile, the Grizzly Inn, was *not* on Grizzly Avenue. Nor was the Polar sawmill on Polar Street. They were both on Hart Lake Road.

Also, my mother assures me that while I may have weirdly vivid memories of being allowed to get out of my stroller to pet a black bear on Grizzly Ave, what actually happened when we met a black bear on Grizzly Ave is that we high-tailed it back to the store and stayed inside until my Dad came home from work and stopped to pick us up.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:53 AM on April 5, 2019 [13 favorites]

My ex-husband and I used to call each other a zillion bear-related nicknames (big and little bear, eventually Mr & Mrs Bear, I am light-haired and thus Kermode, etc). This has not turned me against bears. I love bears, or at least the idea of bears.

I have required comfort food for my brain a lot lately and old Grey's Anatomy episodes are good for this. Relevant clip for this discussion.
posted by wellred at 6:59 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I might have mentioned my bear before, but here’s a chance to tell you all the wonders of my bear, Pooh. I’ve had him since I was four and a half years old, when a family friend brought him back from a trip to Disneyland. He has been y faithful and stalwart companion since then, though he quickly lost his splendid red shirt (it was more of a vest, as I remember) and he’s slightly more two dimensional than he used to be, due to nigh on forty years of hugs. He’s also a remarkably dingy bear, more grey than the bright golden brown fuzz he used to be covered in. When you lift up his legs, you can get a glimpse of the color he used to be in the crook of, uh, I guess his butt. He resides in a place of honor amongst other stuffed animals that have become a part of my life, but his is always the most reachable, most honorable position for hugs in times of need. He’s the best bear I could ask for, the best bear I can imagine having. He’s a good bear.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:07 AM on April 5, 2019 [15 favorites]

My ex and I used to call each other "bear." My current partner and I don't have a single consistent nickname for each other, though.

The only bear I've seen in the wild was heading west out of Alma NB in the early morning on my motorcycle on an amazing fall morning with glonious trees everywhere, there was a little black bear in the road. I stopped and watched for a few minutes and they moved on after a while and I continued my day. I never saw a moose over 16,000km of travel down east. I'm not sure they exist.

I did a few shifts of the panda (not a bear) watch at the National Zoo in DC back in my teens with my uncle. That was cool.

Um... I have a stage adaptation of House on Pooh Corner that needs to be produced...

That's all I got I think.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:15 AM on April 5, 2019

The bear most central to my life is actually this one. She's my gym buddy and my wife talked her into a pony, so they're riding buddies. (Her pony and my wife's pony are best friends. And they both regularly try to pick my wife's pocket.) And all of our cats get along well enough that when one or the other household goes out of town, we just throw them all in the occupied house. Which is going to be very interesting now that we've added two lunatic kittens into the mix - the clowder will be assembled for the first time since their arrival this weekend for ten days, so it's gonna be a lively time in our household.

I feel obligated to mention that Bear just had a new book come out and it is really, really good.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:24 AM on April 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

Really digging on the Bear journaling app lately.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:26 AM on April 5, 2019

For the record, while seanmpuckett and I are acquainted and live in the same city and my admiration for them only grows, we were never married, lol.
posted by wellred at 7:27 AM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

@restless_nomad, I'm so jealous that you get to pal around with one of the best Bears around. I love her work. So damn jealous.
posted by Fizz at 7:29 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

A few years ago I got to be on my good friends' podcast, "Twenty Questions Tuesday," and I was thinking of an all-bear Beatles cover band. John was a spectacled bear, Ringo was a Malayan sun bear, Paul was a panda bear, and George was a grizzly bear. Malayan sun bears are undoubtedly my favorite bears, but I have a soft spot for nearly all bears.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:37 AM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

What Fizz said.
posted by infini at 7:37 AM on April 5, 2019

My family's house in Colorado is in an area with a lot of wildlife, and for years the whole neighborhood had this kind of phone tree bear alert system, in which if you saw a bear, you'd call the neighbor whose house it was heading toward, say the word BEAR, and hang up and rush back to your window to watch. And then your neighbor would call the next neighbor:


Up and down the road until the bear went away.
posted by mochapickle at 7:39 AM on April 5, 2019 [23 favorites]

Despite knowing just how dangerous bears can be, I'm always jealous when I see a photo/video of a bear in someone's lawn (or house). I'm also sad that none of the places I run should require me to wear a bear bell.

Bear down for midterms!
posted by nobeagle at 7:45 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I learned a cool fact about bears on here yesterday. I messaged a long-time friend to ask if he wanted to know a cool fact about bears I just learned, and he said, oh, the one about how nobody knows their true name?

posted by ITheCosmos at 7:52 AM on April 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

Many years ago, I think I was 20 or so, I managed to drag my never-been-camping-before friend off to the White Mountains for a weekend backpacking trip. I was somewhat of a beginner myself at that point, but I had been a few times. I scrounged together some gear for him and we set out into the woods three miles from the Kancamagus Highway to the former Franconia Falls tentsite.

At the time this was a very popular tent site, accessible via a very straight, very flat, former logging railroad bed. Unlike the mountain sites, this was the sort of place where one could easily hike in with a case of Miller Lite and a boombox in their arms, and lots of people did just that.

There were signs warning about bears but we ignored them. Those signs were all over the place and bears were something I'd only seen on TV and didn't really think of as real.

After our hike in we set up the tent, smoked a whole lot of weed and spent a few hours enjoying the falls. Afterwards we came back to our tent site and cooked up a can of Dinty Moore beef stew. It was around this time we heard a call from the woods: "Hello? hello? Is there a ranger around?"

That's when a man walked out of the woods and into our tent site. I think the thing we first noticed about this man was that he was completely naked from head to toe and making absolutely no effort to hide his nakedness.

"A bear took my clothes", he said.

"um... what?"

"A bear took my clothes."

"No, a bear did not take your clothes, dude."

That's when a woman, presumably his wife, stepped out of the woods behind him. Unfortunately for our 20-year-old selves, she had a bathing suit on.

We eventually got out of them that they were swimming, their clothes by their backpack, when a bear came out of the woods and started tearing into the food they had inside.

I have mentioned this before and I'll mention it again, but the thing about bears is that when they take your food it is no longer your food. It is now their food. You're not going to get it back. They are a bear and you are not a bear.

After realizing we couldn't help them they walked away to find a ranger. Before they left, they advised us to hang our food from a tree.

Now, since that weekend I have become a somewhat experienced backpacker. Proper bear bagging trees are difficult to find in an area that had been logged for a couple of centuries, but I'm happy to say I can string up a pretty good bear bag when I need to.

Back then, though, I had no clue what I was doing.

Before we went to bed for the night we managed to scrounge up some cord and hang our stuff sack full of Pop Tarts and pepperoni from a tree. The tree was about ten feet from our tent and the bottom of the stuff sack was hanging approximately six feet off the ground. We patted ourselves on the back for a job well done and went to bed.

Around five AM we were awaken by a thud outside our tent. I grabbed a flashlight and poked my head out of the tent. About ten feet away was a black bear. He was easily the size of a small Tyrannosaurus rex. Or so it looked at 5:00 AM in the dark.

The bear had already torn into our stuff sack and was enjoying a breakfast of Pop Tarts and pepperoni.

I turned to my buddy and said "dude... there is a bear outside."

My buddy was about to run out the non-existent back door of the tent until I calmed him down.

"Relax, I know what to do!"

All the guidebooks tell you what to do in the event a bear is approaching you. You simply bang some pots and pans together and the bear will run away. If there's one thing a bear hates, it seems, it is the clang of pots and pans.

So I reached out of the tent and grabbed the cook pot and lid and banged them together.

The bear continued eating his breakfast of Pop Tarts and pepperoni.

Lacking any other ideas, we just watched him eat all our food. For an hour. Ten feet away from him.

When he was done he didn't even thank us or even look at us, he just walked away towards another camp site.

My buddy and I looked at each other, shrugged, packed up, walked out, had breakfast at McDonalds in Lincoln, NH and drove home.

I never did find out what happened to the naked man and his wife.
posted by bondcliff at 7:54 AM on April 5, 2019 [50 favorites]

I have a dog, Ollie, who looks like a teddy bear when he needs a haircut. When I played World of Warcraft back in the WotLK days, all players received a baby polar bear companion on Wow's anniversary. I named the bear Ollie, and it was my paladin's default companion. Later that year, I bought a small stuffed polar bear and named it Olliebear, and he comes with me on my adventures.

Olliebear in Chicago and San Francisco
Olliebear in Atlanta
Olliebear in Virginia Beach
Olliebear in the Bahamas
Olliebear in Washington, DC
Olliebear in Las Vegas
Olliebear ready for travel!

(the last 3 are dropbox links, they are public but you may get a nag screen to sign up, just click the "I just want to view the file" option)

Before my trips, I rub Olliebear on Actual Ollie to soak up some of Actual Ollie's essence ( dog people are weird). And tomorrow he's coming to Savannah with me.

We just purchased a small stuffed black bear and named him Murphybear so Murphy isn't left out.
posted by kimberussell at 8:06 AM on April 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

A few years back I was lucky enough to go to Churchill, MB, for a polar bear watching tour. It was amazing.

Here are some of the photos I took.
posted by nubs at 8:11 AM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

My friend Joe (outdoorsy, kind of a redneck) was on a camping trip with his family when he was in his late teens. His uncle brought a dog, Cody, who was on the larger side and had zero personal space, very much up in everyone's business. He was the type of dog who would give everyone relentless face kisses and was always trying to snuggle up to you.

Joe -an exceptionally heavy sleeper- was asleep in his tent early one morning and Cody started snuffling around his face and neck. Joe muttered "Cody! Get outta here!" and pushed him away. Cody kept snuffling. Joe, now annoyed and still trying to sleep, gives Cody a gentle punch. Not hard, but the kind of smack you might do on a big, persistent, dumb dog to make it back off. Cody leaves.

A second later, he hears his uncle yelling "BEAR! BEAR!" and also realizes he hears Cody barking up a storm...from INSIDE his uncle's camper trailer, across the campsite. Now fully awake, Joe HAULS ASS out of his torn up tent, pulls on some pants, and sees the black bear he just punched lumbering off towards their camp kitchen. The bear soon wandered away after deciding these noisy humans had no snacks, but Joe still brags he punched a bear.
posted by castlebravo at 8:11 AM on April 5, 2019 [16 favorites]

For some reason yesterday YT's algorithms popped out this video of a bear emerging from his den after hibernation at me. Behold as the bear does the wobble stretchy stretch.
posted by Mizu at 8:16 AM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have no concept of time, but some time between now and 2009, there was a bear in town. Bears are not terribly common in Rhode Island, so this was News. One of the sightings was at a house I can see from my deck, and I was stupidly hoping the bear would visit. My house abuts protected woodland, so we get all kinds of interesting critters in the yard, and I enjoy sitting on my back deck or screened front porch to listen and observe. A few weeks ago, two coyotes came bursting out of the woods chasing some prey. My little cocker spaniel was on the porch with me and started barking. To my surprise, the second coyote (the first ran down the middle of the street after the prey) stopped and ran back into the woods at the sound. Um, good dog? (Doggo was safe inside the porch and couldn't escape outside.) Second coyote came out of the woods again a few moments later and seemed confused by the whole thing. It was the closest I've been to a coyote since that unfortunate wrong turn on Mulholland Drive a few years back.

Last night, I was outside feeding our bonus cat and we heard movement in the yard. Bonus cat decided there was no threat and went back to eating. I turned on the flashlight on my phone and found out that skunks really like the smell of cat food. Bonus kitty gets fed on the porch from now on.
posted by Ruki at 8:39 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

My mom was considering letting a friend's dog in off of their porch one night up in northern NH and then realized the dog was next to her and it was actually a smallish black bear on the porch. She did not let them in.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:43 AM on April 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

Behold as the bear does the wobble stretchy stretch.

Clearly, that is Yoga Bear. Perhaps there is a pic-a-nic basket nearby?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:46 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I received a Santa Bear for Christmas in 1984. They were $10 with any $25 purchase at Daytons. Within three days, 400,000 Santa Bears were sold out. My mother, who is a total sucker for anything Christmas-adjacent, fought the crowds and got one for my sister and I.

Flash forward 34 years and I still sleep with Mr. Bear every night. I also have a family of three other Santa Bears (they came out with a new one every year...luckily I didn't get into the "get them all!" mindset because they made them for another 30 years, and I don't have space for 31 giant bears) that live on the shelf of my bedroom. However, the original Mr. Bear lives in the bed. i have a hard time sleeping without him.

In 2004 I went to visit a friend in Prague. On a whim, I crammed Mr. Bear into my luggage and flew him halfway across the world. My friend made fun of me (but recognized him from when we were roommates in college) but I have to say Mr. Bear enjoyed the trip.

When I was packing for the return trip, I didn't have room for him in the suitcase so I crammed him into my carry-on backpack. He filled basically the whole bag with the exception of a book or something like that. All was well until I got to check-in at the airport. I sent the backpack through the scanner. The security agent frowned at the image on the screen and sent the backpack back through. He frowned at the image again and talked with his colleague nearby. The line behind me got restless.

"Miss!" he said sternly. "What is in the bag?" He glared at me.
"It' teddybear" I said quietly.
"What?" he barked. "What is in the bag?"
"It's a teddy bear," I said, a little bit louder.
"Open the bag!" he shouted.

Freaked out, I opened the bag and pulled out my enormous white teddy bear. The people in line behind me tittered. The agent rolled his eyes and waved me on through. I never took Mr. Bear through an airport again.
posted by Gray Duck at 9:06 AM on April 5, 2019 [12 favorites]

This is Zzzzt, who is a bear of some species previously unknown to humans. I named him sometime in toddlerhood and have no idea whether that combination of syllables meant something specific to tiny me.

He was a baby gift from my aunt, who was married to my dad's youngest brother. They went through an ugly divorce when I was still young, and I grew up hundreds of miles from my dad's family anyway, so I have almost no memory of her aside from Zzzt. She hadn't even been in the family long when I was born. I imagine her now, trying so hard to incorporate herself into the family, taking the time to hand-make this lumpy, oddly-cute gift, and I admire the hell out of that. The rest of my dad's Trumpy drama-llama siblings apparently still talk about what a bitch she was, which makes me think she may have secretly been a badass.
posted by ActionPopulated at 9:10 AM on April 5, 2019 [10 favorites]

because you know that nursery smelled like a lot of urine

This person could use a little work on her sales pitch.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:36 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I grew up on the edge of grizzly country and still get completely excited when I see a bear. It has never gotten old and I could watch them for hours. I also just love seeing bear sign like tracks and scat, and one of my most favorite things in nature are claw marks on trees. It's particularly fun when you're with someone who isn't that outdoorsy and you find one that was placed when the snow was super high, and you make super exaggerated exclamations about how high they are and you kind of want to leave the country if there's a bear that big in the area, watching them make those calculations for a second of two, their eyes getting bigger and bigger, before you finally give in and explain it. *giggle*

In some outdoor tale book that I forget there was a mention of a park supervisor who had a giant grizzly bear picture behind his desk. I thought that was *so cool*. The first thing I did when I got my own office was to place a giant print of a snarling grizzly bear that looked like it was charging the camera behind my desk. Having it made sense because everyone knew where I was from, so it wasn't out of place as it could be in other workplaces. That bear was the first thing you noticed when you walked in the room. It was quite intimidating. As a woman in an extremely male dominated industry it was an amazing power move that secretly delighted me very much and but I also just love bears so the photo also just gave me a lot of joy.

In a roundabout way a bear gave me one of my worst outdoor injuries. I was hiking on a trail that was overlain by some really tall, thick grass and didn't notice this big pile of extremely slick and recent berry rich bear scat, stepped right on it and slid in it for about two feet in what my companions called an extremely comical way before landing on my butt and smearing bright red shit all over my ass and one leg. Unfortunately in the process I tore my ACL. It amuses me to this day, though, to say I tore my ACL by falling in bear shit.

Bears get stuck in cars often here in Colorado, but it's not often one takes a car for a joyride. Also in related news a moose recently closed down the library in Silverthorne, CO, because it decided to take a nap.
posted by barchan at 9:50 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

The bear from my youth, named Ted, wearing the last outfit my mother sewed for him, and a watermelon hat turtlegirl knitted and asked him to model.
posted by terrapin at 9:50 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

One of my first memories is of watching a bear from our window while it sorta rooted through the trash then went back up the canyon (Southern CO).

I quite like bears.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:59 AM on April 5, 2019

Years ago, my wife worked for a couple of months as a interpreter for a tour company that would take groups into one of the provincial parks for a day and take them for a day hike. Her job was to guide the hike and provide some information about the local flora and fauna, which included a talk about bears and bear safety. So she talked about black bears and grizzly bears, and ideas for safety if they were around, and also suggest the idea of wearing a bell and having pepper spray as safety methods. Further in her talk, she talked about what things to look for to let you know a bear was in the area, which included their scat. She would describe the scat - black bear scat is often filled with berries and vegetation, while grizzly scat contains bells and smells like pepper.

She always knew who was really paying attention.
posted by nubs at 10:09 AM on April 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

Fizz, I wish you luck in your war with the invisible bears.
posted by biogeo at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've mentioned this on the site before but when I was five years old I had an imaginary grizzly bear named Bosley. He lived in the basement and I made my mom feed him dog chow. (It was the 70s.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:25 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I like HippyBears, do they count?
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think it is highly likely that I combined elements from Grizzly Adams and Charlie's Angels to come up with my imaginary friend, btw.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Hooray! I am taking a trip to Alaska at the end of the summer (one way cruise and then driving around a bit), and I am so excited to look for bears. I even have a float plane trip booked to look for bears! They are so cool. Also, I am confused that nobody wanted to go with me, so I booked a solo trip - I realize people generally don't like being cold, but bears! And moose! And glaciers!

I've seen black bears when hiking and driving around in the Blue Ridge mountains, where I grew up, but I am hoping that salmon-fattened bears are a whole 'nother experience.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2019

My favorite bear is in a sculpture, the Spirit of Haida Gwaii by Bill Reid. (A bit more context for the bear mother part of the sculpture can be found here and here.)
posted by gudrun at 10:56 AM on April 5, 2019

My bear story
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:18 AM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am working at the library today. Something I do a few times a year when someone is out sick or on holiday. And it's National Library Week next week. So the kid/teen librarian asked if I could pick out some books for the NLW display (usually working in the teen/kid area is mostly just resolving disputes among a bunch of rowdy teen gamers). So yay I got to read a bunch of kid books that I otherwise never see. And one of the most adorable ones (in addition to Bats at the Library, Please Bury Me In the Library, and Lola At the Library) is A Library Book for Bear.

Bear is a grump who lives at home with about seven books ("Just enough" he says). His friend mouse gets him out of the house to go the library. He doesn't want to go and basically doesn't want to be there. Mouse tries to find him books he might like but they are about canoeing and rockets. Bear likes pickles. However he overhears a storytime going on nearby reading a book about... pickle treasure or something? I am unclear entirely. Also the bear is on roller skates. Long story short the bear falls in love with the library and goes home with some new pickle books and maybe one or two about canoes and rockets. The end.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:21 PM on April 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Nubs, I was waiting for that joke. :-)
I have had no close encounters with bears (other than a bedraggled stuffed teddy bear with approximately panda coloration in my long-ago childhood and the inevitable "build-a-bear" bears for my daughters somewhat less long ago). Seeing a full-grown grizzly bear at the zoo was plenty close enough for me. We get coyotes and sometimes foxes in the greenbelt behind our house. I'm okay with them, but bears can be HUGE.
posted by coppertop at 12:37 PM on April 5, 2019

I was staying at my boyfriend's cabin in BC this summer and one morning got to watch a mama black bear and her three adorable cubs climb his apple tree and eat apples.

In hindsight I should have scared them off right away. But omg baby bears are SO CUTE! I have vowed to be resolute in my pot banging in the future as we are installing beehives this summer.
posted by ananci at 1:12 PM on April 5, 2019

We Bare Bears is a really good show! I recommend it.
posted by meese at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2019

I found this 14,250 year old grizzly bear mandible doing research in old bear dens on the west coast of Canada.
posted by Rumple at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

We camp with a fantastic group of family and friends at Lassen Volcanic National Park every year for over 20 years now. Lassen had done a very good job of camper education and bear-box enforcement so the park's bears are not habituated to visit campgrounds or approach humans as they are at, say, Yosemite. In spite of that, almost every member of our camping group has seen a bear in its natural surroundings in or around the park, either while hiking or from the car while driving through the park.

Almost everyone. With the notable exception of Mr. rekrap.

Mr. rekrap very badly wants to see a bear and of course everyone ribs him about it incessantly and he grumbles, mostly goodnaturedly, about his misfortune. Never mind that seeing a bear while hiking is not necessarily a great idea. I'm thinking about having a custom t-shirt made for him that says "Bear Repellant".
posted by rekrap at 2:08 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

My ex-husband’s only name for me was Boo, short for Boo Boo, Yogi Bear’s sidekick. He started calling me that because he mistakenly though the catchphrase from that cartoon, “smarter than the average bear,” referred to Boo Boo, and that’s what he thought I was. (In fact it’s something Yogi Bear said about himself.) I always really liked being called Boo. Once we split up he just stopped calling me anything, I guess because it was too weird to call me by my given name. He used to be such a nice man. It’s been so long since I’ve had the emotional space to remember anything good about him. Years. I’m tired of feeling hurt and angry but he just keeps being awful and I haven’t found a new way of regarding him. I’m still the same idiot who keeps expecting him to act with at least the kindness a neighbor or coworker would display and gets a nasty shock every time. So anyway, um, bears.
posted by HotToddy at 3:06 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

For as much time as I've spent outdoors and camping, I have thankfully had only one bear encounter, and it was a long time ago while car camping as a kid with family, and they just came through and smelled our bear lockers and the edges of our tents and moved on.

I have biked/hiked in bear country and have done bear hangs and full back country bear camping protocols with kitchen/food/scents downwind. I prefer the PCT hang for a food bag with the toggle and loose drop line.

Mainly I try to avoid bear country camping because I have a habit of wanting to snack in bed just before falling asleep, and that's not difficult to do when bike touring, because it tends to be a lot more riding where roads go and camping near them.

I live in the country of the Olympics and there are multiple reports of black bear dens in the area. We honestly don't see them much because they're rare around here. I'm more concerned about the cougar den about half a mile away, that I've seen tracks of.

I regularly hike through their territory and have absolutely felt myself being watched or stalked because I've felt this before many times with confirmation of a big cat stalking me or watching me from a distance.

I really would like to not encounter bears or other large predators. I have no idea what the fuck I'd do if I encountered a grizzly or other larger brown bear. Black bears are basically oversized raccoons and trash pandas but they're still dangerous, and I'd still like to not be too close to one.

I also make a point to make noise when traveling through the back country or even around the area around my home.

I seem to be more likely to encounter coyotes and cougars.
posted by loquacious at 3:57 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm a bear. I'm an over 50, overweight, hirsute, married with two kids, Papasan, domestically skilled God, bisexual, queer activist, mammal. From the very beginning I identified with bears, like Christopher Robin. I loved Pooh and Piglet and eventually married Eeyore. As I reflect on my younger intellectual self, it’s actually kind of sad to consider the disproportionately huge impact that Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh had on my philosophical foundations. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been Ayn Rand, or God forbid, Marx. But instead I was fed a marmalade made up of Lau Tzu, Benjamin Hoff, and A.A. Milne on squares of toast with the crust cut off and a spot of tea, with honey, of course.

And when I would later learn about the bears in the gay community, again I figured, yeah, I think this might be for me. I like looking at them and they like looking at me. A younger me was much hotter than I am now, so my basic morphology has changed drastically over the years, but the one constant has been fur. I’m so furry that my father, who came from a beardless, thinly haired people, frequently joked with my mother about whether a hairy family friend was actually my father. “Are you sure?”

But I think I met my first queer bear back in the late Eighties, and I thought I kind of like these people. Most also seem to thrive in the domestic arts. They cook, and clean, and make pottery, and love animals. They like beer, and bikes, and the outdoors, and, well, other dudes who like those same things. And when I was young and fit and hot, they really liked me too, though most weren’t thrilled when they discovered I was bi. If I may have an intersectional interlude here, trying to be out as bi in the Eighties, Nineties, and Oughts really sucked, because the half of the community you were attracted to that you thought would be accepting, the queer community, wasn’t. I think that’s changed, but when people ask why I wasn’t openly bi back three and four decades ago, I don’t think they really understand how alienating it felt to be shunned by both queer and straight people. To be dismissed and distrusted by almost everyone you told.

There was a magazine I used to subscribe to back in the Nineties that was aimed at a bisexual audience that was called Frighten the Horses, and it was ironically named after a Victorian phrase about bisexuals implying that we’d fuck anything we could lay a hand to. But in practice, that was not my experience. If you told a lover you were bisexual, your ripped abs really took a hit in their attractiveness. Almost every time I made that admission a countdown to exit clock started for the lover I told it to. Except for my wife. Who has also always identified as bi which may be why we're still together. She first met me when she invited my boyfriend at the time to bring a guest to a brunch she was having. She too was pretty hot back then, but that’s not why we’re still together. Yeah, the sex is pretty good, but again, that’s not why we got married and had two kids. We’ll always be together because we know. We know the loneliness, the secrets, the betrayal, the disappointment, the humiliation, the misunderstanding, and the inevitable heartbreak. We know that each of us also likes other things. She likes Doctor Who, I really don’t. I like immaculate floors, which do nothing for her. I sometimes think about sucking a big hard dick. She’s okay with that. She sometimes thinks about 69ing that chick at the bar, and I too think that would be kind of hot.

So I’m a bear, and I like men who are bears, and I like my wife who also likes men who are bears. And I like my super curvy wife, who also like other super curvey women. And my wife likes the bread I make her, and we both like Justin Theroux, and we’re living happily ever after with a trans son and a lesbian daughter.

I’m glad it’s not the Nineties anymore, even though I wish I still had that chiseled, fuzzy, glistening bod. I think I’m much happier as an old queer dad to a trans son and a lesbian daughter. And while it always bothered me that my current family would have been dismissed by both the gay community and the straight community back in the Nineties (and yeah, I recognize that it’s always been only the straight community trying to codify that dismissal) I delight in the fact that my wife and I pulled it off. All of our now-divorced friends expressed skepticism about the union of a curvey bulldyke and a bear, but we have happy kids and a good life. This whole bear thing seems to have worked out. Oh, bother.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:23 PM on April 5, 2019 [33 favorites]

My buddy is an indie developer called Team Cats and Bears and he's about to release his first game, which unfortunately is about cats and inexplicably features no bears.

I told him the next game ought to be about finding out the true name of bears.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:37 PM on April 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

The true name of bears is "lint devils." Don't tell them I said anything, though. They're kind of sensitive about it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:16 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

So. Back in 2015, two dear friends of mine got married. They signed the legal paperwork in Chicago where they lived at the time, but for the celebration they rented out the summer camp that one of them used to go to for a weekend, put all of us up in the cabins, and had a big long weekend of hanging out in the Arkansas woods. It was a great time.

I shared a car from the airport to the camp with three other old friends. As we speculated on what the camp would be like, the question arose of what wildlife we could expect to see -- and in particular, whether there were bears in the area. My friends are decidedly city folks, and while I'm no great outdoorsman myself, I have family in Wyoming, so that made me the expert on the "wilderness." I assured my friends that yes, there are probably bears in the woods, and no, they won't come bother us at the camp.

No, I am not setting up the story of a bear encounter at the wedding. The bears left us alone. Instead, when we got back within range of cell service, I got several texts from my father all at once, including a very interesting picture. Remember my family in Wyoming? There are definitely bears in Wyoming. I'm told that when my mother called the local authorities, they told her yes, she should stay inside, because there had been a bear reported in the area. She had to explain that no, she should not stay inside, because the bears were inside their house.

It turns out the deer netting surrounding the garden, together with the screen door they left half-open to allow cat roaming, were insufficient to stop a wandering bear. (Quelle surprise.) Fortunately, my parents were able to stay out of the way long enough to get to the car and put a safe distance between themselves and the beasties. In the end, Game & Fish showed up with tranquilizers and everyone came out of it ok, including the cats and the bears.
posted by egregious theorem at 6:21 PM on April 5, 2019 [10 favorites]

My latest bear encounter was coming across the book Finding Winnie (short Youtube video by the author, about the book) at the library. It's a lovely book, with lovely pictures of Winnie the Original Bear.

I have a stuffed bear that I call Zen Pooh. It was given to me by an aunt, I think, and probably sewn by her; it's about a foot tall and sort of Pooh-like, but just very chill and Zen. It just has this tiny little smile on its face, and it just looks like everything's fine all the time. It's nice to have a Zen Pooh around.
posted by kristi at 6:25 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh! Oh! For some reason, Jessamyn's comment above made me think of Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat (and here are some images of the cover and inside pages).
posted by kristi at 6:31 PM on April 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The true name of bears is "lint devils." Don't tell them I said anything, though. They're kind of sensitive about it.

They couldn't bear it if anyone found out, eh?
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:42 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

My bear fact is that once I misremembered the name for 'koala' in Chinese and instead I gave the word for 'sloth.' It just seemed too appropriate: "树懒熊" = 'lazy tree bear'.

Oddly enough, if you search baidu (not google) with that query, you do get a mix of sloths and koalas.

Also here is the usual photo of me and Koala, my giant stuffed koala.
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:53 PM on April 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Watch out for drop bears.
posted by beandip at 9:07 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

*still wiping tear from reading Stanczyk's comment*
posted by infini at 11:21 PM on April 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry if I made anyone cry. It was supposed to be a happy story. Was it the Doctor Who thing?
posted by Stanczyk at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2019 [7 favorites]

(((hugs Stanczyk)))
posted by infini at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

last week I learned about glacier bears! they are black bears, but blue!
posted by corvine at 10:00 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Stanczyk, I am so glad you have those great kids, and so glad they have you, and so utterly glad you and your wife have each other. Happily ever after is just what you deserve. Bear hugs if you want them!
posted by kristi at 10:22 AM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's hard not to think my wife and I are uniquely qualified to raise these particular kids. When they both told us about their own questions about their sexuality and identity we came out to them. I think that made it much easier for them to be honest with us and with themselves. They never really had that period where their parents struggled with it. Grandparents, sure, but not their parents.

So maybe this is a better happy ending. I'm taking the day off work on Tuesday and we're taking the kids out of school so we can all go to my son's court date for his legal name change. It's our gift to him for his 15th birthday. Even his grandparents are driving over from the next state to be there. Then we're going to go out for a celebratory lunch.

Does that one work any better?
posted by Stanczyk at 10:36 AM on April 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

Stanczyk, I don't think anyone having some tears from your stories is sad.
posted by nubs at 10:56 AM on April 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

They were tears of awesome!
posted by mochapickle at 12:27 PM on April 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

*starts bawling loudly into handkerchief*
posted by infini at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

A close family member of mine studies bear populations, and as part of that, in the summertime, she sets non-lethal traps for bears -- some look like big drain pipes, closed off at one end with a door that swings shut at the other. Others are meant to snag fur samples, so they're a twist of wire on a tree where there's a canister of something interesting or enticing dangling up high, so that the bear rubs up against the twist while sniffing.

And since it's bears, it needs to have a strong smell, but bears have different ideas of what is enticing. So she has used, among other things:

1. Commercial strawberry scent extract.
2. The god-awful liquid you get when you put roadkill into a 50 gallon barrel let it sit in the hot summer sun for several days.
3. Expired/imperfect baked goods, which she gets by the palette-ful from an industrial bakery near her study site.
4. A combination of all of the above.

She reports that bears love anything with peanut butter in it. However, nobody fucking touches Snoballs.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

We used to go up to my grandmother's house in Maine for summer vacations, in particular, one of my brothers and I would stay with her for a while, presumably to give Mom and Dad a break, as the other siblings were older. This was the early 1970's.

There was a big sand pit way out back from her house, and we used to go jumping there. You would back up, run, and jump in the air, then land in the sand pit, woo! It was so much fun!

One day, we saw a black bear snuffling along in the brush, and we ran back home, lickety-split!

I later told one of my older cousins about this and she said they always told her, when picking berries, to just move along to the next bush, which reminded me of Blueberries for Sal, one of my favorite children's books.

My Dad later moved to Wisconsin, and so did some of my brothers. He would often tell me about a bear getting into his compost pile, or a local bear in the neighborhood. Once, when I was staying with him, we were driving home from the grocery store, 30 miles each way, and cars were stopped along the roadside.

"Probably a bear," Dad said, and as we slowly passed the cars, we saw a mother bear and 3 cubs. "It must have been a good year," he said.

Dad also had a story about driving along the road in the woods, and a black bear running hell-mell out of the woods and bouncing off the read end of his truck. "They'll do that, you see, the mother raises them for a while, and then she swats them, until they run and run, to find their new territory, that must have been one of those bears, running to find his new home."

Then there was the time my brother said, "c'mon, let's go for a ride." He would drive along back roads, and maybe pull out a joint, and put on the country tunes, and we'd just cruise around for a while. Once, we saw a little black bear in the ditch, scrambling up into a field. "Look at that!" he said, as he slowed the truck.

Later on, I moved back to Maine, got married, and eventually, we rented a house that backed up to some woods. I threw down cracked corn and bird seed out back, enjoying the wild turkeys and cardinals. Ah, Nature!

One day, we had a huge snow fall, and I went out to look at it, everything was beautiful, log ends turned into marshmallows, fir trees dripping white fluff, it was magical. Then, I spotted them: people had been walking all around my house. What the hell!? Who had been walking around our house at night? Was it burglars, some tramp, what? I followed the trails back into the woods, convinced that someone had come around to case our house in order to rob it later.

Then I went out back, and saw some actual footprints. Some were big and some were small. They paused at the place where I threw the cracked corn. It dawned on me that these were not humans, but animals, and it was probably a mother bear and her 1st year cub, who'd been walking through the woods, wandering around, and eventually, they found my cracked corn.

I stopped putting out cracked corn after that. The only bears I've seen since then were bears at the wildlife rehab center in Grey, Maine, where animals are rehabbed, and if possible, released back into the wild, if not, they are given a nice life.

This is my Google photos album, hope it is visible to you all, if not, let me know and I'll download some pics and upload them to Imgur.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:37 PM on April 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

I find Jalliah's collection of bear anecdotes endlessly amusing.

Also, Lyle Lovett wrote a great song about bears.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:55 PM on April 6, 2019

I have a second good bear story that I told here a couple of years ago. I'll paste it below to save you the click.

I’ve been living in a city for about five years now but before that, I spent most of my adult life living in the country, and most of that living in the mountains of the Mid-Atlantic region. I loved those mountains and there was a time in my life that I spent part of almost every day on the trails and roads that cut through the rivered valleys and over the wooded ridges.

The area I lived in was also replete with hunters. Almost everyone hunted. It was a valued tradition and interwoven into the culture, resulting in anachronistic local businesses such as specialty butchers, tanners, and gunsmiths. Even in the local hunting holidays like the first day of doe season and the one day of the year that bears could be hunted when they’d close the schools and banks so everyone could take advantage of the rare opportunity.

Because there were hunters there were also dogs. In this area, the coonhound ruled, and for good reason. They make great companion animals, they have the stamina needed for running up and down the gravity thick terrain, and as general purpose hunting dogs they’re great to have with you in the woods should you meet something much larger and hungrier than yourself. They work well in small or large groups, even individually, though that tends to be an area where their instincts don’t always work to their human companion’s advantage. Coonhounds are forever balancing the impulse to follow the pack against the impulse to follow a smell. So some dogs might have a greater proclivity to stay with you, and others might tend more toward independent investigation.

I’ve had three coonhounds at various times in my life and my favorite of the three was Addie. Addie was a strong and beautiful dog and she loved hiking the mountains with me. And once I was well off the roads, I could take her off her leash and she’d pretty much stay with me for the two or three hours we were in the woods. Sometimes she’d get distracted by a fresh scent, but I typically didn’t worry about it because her M.O. was pretty predictable. She did what her parents did, which was find the source of that scent and then bark at it until it went up a tree. That’s when I was supposed to step in and shoot the raccoon, possum, bear, whatever she’d treed. The problem with this scenario was that I didn’t hunt.

Addie did this dozens of times, and eventually, I learned that the most appropriate response was to ignore her. If I didn’t follow her baying eventually she’d leave the frightened animal and return to me on the trail. But she’d give me a look when she returned. It seemed clearly a look of disappointment. Not in me, because I don’t think dogs think that way, but in the lost opportunity, and maybe a little in herself. Perhaps she misunderstood something. Maybe she did something wrong.

One day, after about two hours on a trail, she hit a scent that crossed the trail and continued out to our right. Her body got rigid when she first picked it up and she lifted her head and looked in that direction. Then she tore off after whatever she smelled. I continued walking predicting the usual pattern of baying chase, and eventually loud repetitive bays and barks once she’d treed her target. But that’s not what I heard this time. It started with the same baying chase, and that continued deep into the woods, but then she went silent. Then a few short bays far ahead, then silence, though I could hear chase in the distance, then closer, and then farther. Then a few bays behind me, then silence and chase again. That’s when I saw it. About 60 yards ahead of me a black bear crossed the trail, followed about five seconds later by Addie. Then more chasing, and then the bear crossed back over the trail about 30 yards away. Then it hit me. Holy shit. Since I wasn’t coming to the bear, she was bringing the bear to me. When she crossed after the bear I called her. She seemed a bit confused but she came to me. I put her on the leash and kept her on it for the next couple of miles until I was sure we were far from the bear.

She was an incredibly smart dog, and she really was wasted on me. I think we both knew it. On the bright side, at least I took her into the woods on an almost daily basis which she absolutely loved, even if I was incompetent companionship.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:57 PM on April 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

This is a metafilter thread where the word "bearrific" has not been used not one single time.

This is also the reason I love metafilter above all.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 8:23 AM on April 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Albert the Bear, who subdued the Slavs in the twelfth century, is the reason a bear is the emblem of Bearlin, the capital of Germany. Maybe.
posted by Segundus at 10:27 PM on April 7, 2019

The bear in Finland is a face of Russia. A friend of mine who is in her sixties and remembers the post war cold war times, spoke of dreaming her head was in the bears open jaws and she could feel his hot breath against her cheek back when the Ukraine thing had a lot of older people very distressed.
posted by infini at 2:04 AM on April 8, 2019

So the court appearance went better than planned. We got an awesome judge who was very sensitive and thoughtful in her approach. She went through the mandated set of questions. Are you using this name change to avoid debt, charges, litigation? Parents, can you explain to the court why you believe this to be in the best interest of your child? I told her about an incident a month ago when my son had a substitute in class one Friday and how that substitute told him that he was required to use his dead name in class because that was what was on the rolls. The sub was wrong about that, but it hardly helped. That incident sent my son into a dysphoric depression that lasted an entire weekend. He didn't even want to go to the high school play he and his friends were planning to see because he didn't want to encounter that sub at the school again. My wife mentioned how it bothered him that whenever we had to visit a doctor or pick up a prescription we had to do so with his dead name. The only exception to that was the trans clinic he visits.

She listened, nodded, and ruled to approve. After some brief formal announcements she had to make, she invited my son up to the bench and asked him if he'd like to gavel the session to a close which would make his name change official. Oy, that goofy grin on his face as brought the hammer down. We then left the court and passed him around for hugs and kisses. And I was so proud of his grandparents who've come such a long way, both figuratively and literally. They gave him a monogrammed tie clip with his new initials and a set of fine hankies to use as pocket squares, which he wore to court. Like the gentleman he is, he offered his hankie to his grandmother to wipe away her tears after the session. Then Grandma and Grandpa took us all out for a nice lunch.

It was a great day made even better by an amazing judge and some enlightened grandparents. One of my favorite parts of their visit was when they told us that they're changing churches because they don't like their pastor's condescension and dismissal when discussing LGBTQ "choices." These are my in-laws, my parents have passed. I can't tell you how deeply I love my wife's amazing parents.

So this is your third happy ending. Let's hope I got it right this time.
posted by Stanczyk at 12:26 PM on April 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

You got it right, Stanczyk. I know because I have a few tears.
posted by nubs at 2:46 PM on April 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

BEARS BEARS POLAR BEARS is the first thing I think of when asked for bear facts. A grizzly bear can strip a deer's carcass in six minutes.
posted by asperity at 4:15 PM on April 9, 2019

My bear story, reproduced from this comment:
I also once woke up to the wump of the black bear, but in my case it was breaking into my tent. I yelled "holy fuck, it's a bear," and then started growling and barking at it, and if my tent-mates were not previously aware of how to deal with a black bear they caught on pretty quickly and soon enough we were all snarling like a bunch of rabid junkyard dogs. The bear found us highly disagreeable and promptly left, leaving us to sit there and reflect on what it is exactly that you've learned about a man after having woken up growling with him.
posted by invitapriore at 4:48 PM on April 9, 2019

*howls again, loudly blowing nose, into handkerchief to hear about Stanczyk's son's new name ceremony*
posted by infini at 11:26 PM on April 9, 2019

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