We had another mild night. It only dipped down to 30. It was a bit windy all night. It got up to 41 yesterday and it was 34 and hazy at observation this morning. Looks like we might get some clouds this afternoon.
I took a day off hiking yesterday to recover from Friday's 16 miler. I hauled water, cleaned the kitchen and got a lot of reading done. It felt like a productive day.
I wanted to talk about black bears today. I met this little guy on Thanksgiving day. He was active around camp all day. We saw signs of him the previous few days - a few guests saw him and we saw some scat in camp. He was unabashedly begging from people. He wasn't new at this. This is something he learned from people - if I walk around long enough and look cute, eventually someone will throw some food at me.
Bears are wild animals. They normally look for food at dusk and dawn. This is abnormal. It could be that they had a bad year for their natural food sources (which is true this year), but that is no excuse to intervene. This bear has learned bad habits. If he survives the winter, he'll expect food from people.
That leads to a number of problems. He won't be learning how to forage for natural food sources. These food sources are better for him and will lead to him having a healthy and productive life. It's what his kind has survived on for generations - not pizza. Also, it could lead to confrontation with other hikers in the future. If this scenario unfolds, he'd be labeled a problem bear and potentially hurt someone. Feeding him pizza because he looks skinny is putting his life and other hikers' lives at risk.
It's natural to feel sympathy for such a beautiful creature, but by feeding him you would create more problems than just 'helping him get through the winter'. I think he's cute too and I don't want him to starve. However, I would much rather let nature take it's course than feed him and create a whole new set of problems for him, the parks' visitors and the good folks at the Park Service. If you don't believe me, please read the Appalachian Bear Rescue's FAQ section. They have a number of newspaper articles discussing the fate that awaits problem bears. Please keep the wild animals wild.
Thanks for listening.