It’s January.  Bears in the Smokies and throughout the country are in dens.  Mother bears will soon give birth to the cubs of 2018.  Bear cubs are born in the period from mid-January to mid-February.  You may recall that ABR has arbitrarily designated January 22nd as the official birthdate of all cubs and yearlings in our care.

Although there are no bears currently residing at ABR (the three cubs were released on December 4, 2017) Curator Coy is trekking out into the mountains to find dropped collars and to check bear dens.  Here are some photos that he took recently during a collar searching mission.  He was accompanied by a classmate, Jessica, who was on the same mission.  She had collared bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

burned area

Somewhere in this area that was burned in the fires of 2016 is a bear den!


Jessica uses a tracking device to get the signal from one of her collars.


A ground den that Coy found.

tree den

The tree in the center of this image has a den far above the ground.

A tree den like this one would be a likely place for a sow that is going to give birth.  The fact that it is so high is a safety feature – newborn cubs are safe from predators.  Furthermore, there is little to no chance that the den will flood.