We caught a bear in a trap last night and we “worked up” the bear. Basically, the wildlife tech drugged the bear in the trap, then we took out the bear, weighed her (130 lbs), and gave a physical exam. I was responsible for taking some of the vitals, which we do regularly (the bear is under anesthesia–it’s important to keep track of these things, just as it is with anesthetized people). Holding a bear’s head or feeling her heartbeat is unique (I’m not sure how to describe what it’s like to stick a thermometer up a bear’s butt).

Here's a picture of a bear trap. I've just opened the door, and a bear is about to go running out.

Here's a picture of a bear trap. I've just opened the door, and a bear is about to go running out.

Bears and traps are fascinating to me. Why do bears go back into traps after having been in them before? Surely, they remember. There’s one bear who has been trapped over 15 times! There are other bears who never seem to go into traps. I wonder what the thought process is. In the last post, I wrote about a bear who outsmarted traps.  But, perhaps the most fascinating thing about bears in traps is how calm some bears are once they’re inside. While some bears (like this bear from last night) are fairly anxious once in a trap, there are other bears who appear completely calm–and I’ve noticed this even with some bears who have never been trapped before. What makes them so calm? Would YOU be calm if you were stuck in a trap and didn’t know why or what was going to happen or how to get out?

White 6, the bear we caught last night, was apparently so surprised to get caught in the trap that she didn’t even bother eating the bait. What does go through a bear’s mind when that door closes behind it? Is it, “oops”?

As for this bear, she was moved elsewhere within Yosemite. She hasn’t been acting aggressively or anything, but she is quite used to being around people and getting our food; her best chance for a long life is one away from Yosemite Valley. While we don’t relocate bears as often as we used to, we’re most likely to relocate young bears, which are less likely to return to wherever they were captured. (It seems older bears almost always return, so it’s not very productive trying to move them.)

White 6 just after being taken from the trap.

White 6 just after being taken from the trap.

(Not all my posts will be about bears… that just seems to be the only thing interesting to write about lately.)

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