A couple of lines about bear scat in my earlier post caused a stir on my Facebook page (and by a stir I mean four or five comments, such as “Run!” and “Nice bear.”)
I was trying to write about the majesty of nature and inherent spirituality of walking in the woods, and instead my loyal readers (and by loyal I mean anyone who’s read more than one of my blog posts) fixated on the bear shit.
They apparently have read the same scientific papers that I have, which show a startling correlation between bear poo and the presence of bears (true fact: 93 percent of bear poo is deposited by bears. A crack scientific team is currently studying the source of the other 7 percent, thanks to a generous federal grant).
My goal in making that observation was simply to answer the eternal question: ‘Does a bear, in fact, shit in the woods?’ Yes it does. (As for the secondary question posed by loyal reader and serial smartass Pat Beach: ‘Does a wannabe-novelist shit in the woods?’ Yes again! But he buries it, because he has opposable thumbs and a shovel.)
The unspoken question (and thank you for not asking it out of respect for my peace of mind) was, ‘How big you figure that bear was?’
Obviously I thought about this, but having nothing but the aforementioned scat pile to analyze, I thought it was impossible to calculate the bear’s size. Then I found a mathematical formula in a copy of Large Critter Quarterly (1989 Christmas edition) that was lying around the cabin. So by applying the formula…
scat height + scat width + X² ÷ ᴫ³ = bear size (‼)
…I calculated that the bear is roughly 10 feet tall and weighs 1,750 pounds. (for any Austin hipsters who are reading, this is even larger than the cute new Fiat that everyone in your condo bought last year.)
I’ve seen bears at the cabin before. Some of you may remember this guy from two years ago who passed within 20 feet of the cabin several times while my faithful guard-hound Maya (rest her soul) uttered nary a yip of warning because she was too busy becoming a dog statue and trying not to look like a bear snack.
From watching Discovery Channel I know that bears don’t want to hunt down and eat people. They just want our garbage and that lunch you packed for the family trip to Yellowstone. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a short list of tips for surviving in bear country:
- Don’t toss your unfinished McNuggets into the woods, they will attract bears. Bears love McNuggets and have foraged for them for millennia to fatten themselves before winter.
- Don’t bring snack dogs into bear country. By snack dogs I mean Chihuahuas, pugs and any other yipping, Napoleon-complex mutt that will try to play whose-is-bigger with a bear. The bear’s is bigger, and he’ll prove it.
- If a bear rushes up to you and buries its snout in your crotch, don’t take it home as a pet thinking you can train it to stop that embarrassing habit. Crotch-sniffing in bears is a recessive trait that signals atypical aggression. It will eat the kibble you give it, then it will eat you in your sleep.
- Don’t try to lure a bear with food just so you can get a photo. You will most likely have a photo of a bear running away with your arm in its mouth. And nobody wants to see that on Facebook.
I hope those tips are helpful next time you’re in bear country. And please keep those comments and questions coming.