Last night after dark I heard a strange noise from the library apartment through my open back door. I went out on the porch and the two Fort dogs, Duke and Blanca were sitting on the porch but looking back towards the nature trail that runs along the creek. The noises continued and eventually Duke, the male boxer, got up and ran to a tree about 150 feet from the porch. I went in and got a flashlight and spotted a small baby black bear clinging to the tree trunk where Duke had chased him. I called for Garnett and we called Duke back and eventually got him closed up in the apartment. Blanca, the part wolf dog, had sense enough to stay in her spot in the flower bed beside the apartment door.
Garnett and I watched as the black bear climbed down and kept “bawling” realizing that the mother bear could not be far behind and would come to her baby’s rescue. We spotted a second cinnimon-colored bear cub in the same close vicinity as the first, then heard a louder answer from the mother bear. The sounds they used to communicate were quite distinctive and I’m sure I’ll never forget them. Eventually two eyes (about 4 feet from the ground and about a foot apart reflected in the bushes nearby. We decided to back up closer to the apartment door.
The cubs finally scampered off in the direction of the bushes and then we heard some splashing from the creek. Duke was released from protective custody a while later but continued to bark from the porch until after midnight. Seeing an adult bear at Fort Burgwin is not that unusual or dangerous if you use common sense and accepted procedure (stand tall to look big, don’t smile and show your teeth) but running into cubs separated from a concerned mother bear is VERY dangerous. We will see if they return tonight.
Today (Wednesday) a motorist traveling along Highway 518 stopped into the Fort to report that he say lightening strike the top ridge of the mountain behind the Fort. Sure enough dark then white clouds of smoke continued to drift from the top of the mountain all through the afternoon and night. A call to the Carson National Forest office in Taos revealed that they did in fact know about the fire and were monitoring it.
Between bears and forest fires, I’m not sure how much I’ll sleep tonight.