This Thing Called Courage

Friday, July 31, 2009

Maybe They're Irish Bears?

Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three.
In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young.
There were two or three reports of sows with as many as four cubs, but five was, and is, extraordinary.
I learnt of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself the goal of photographing all five cubs with their mum - no matter how much time and effort was involved.
I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark.
After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for six weeks, I had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them.
I used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. (Bottom pic)
I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season.
All six bears continued to thrive.
As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK.
I stayed away from the bears as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, as approachable friends.
This could be dangerous for both man and animal.
After Halloween I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated.

This spring, before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007.
I saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, an improbable second once-in-a-lifetime photograph. (top pic)

On April 25, 2008 I achieved my dream.


Anonymous Cristina said...

Your pictures are amazing!!!
This bear family is extraordinary, being there must have been like watching the miracle of Nature walking in front of your eyes.
I do hope these bears will go on living there happy and free for many years.
Thank you for sharing the images.
Cristina from Italy

6:13 AM  

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