Rich and Marian Dressler were rousted from bed Monday morning by an unfamiliar sound outside their home on Pushaw Lake in Glenburn.
“At first I thought that it might have been a fox, but then it just kept going on,” Rich Dressler said. “Pretty soon, we saw these two [black bear] cubs walk across from our neighbors’ lot.”
The bears promptly scaled a tree along the shore, where they resumed their emphatic screeching. That’s exactly what you’ll hear in the video captured by the Dresslers.
“The sound the cubs were making was a distress call that often occurs when the cubs are separated from their mother in an effort to locate her,” explained Jen Vashon, Black Bear and Canada Lynx Biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Dressler also is an experienced wildlife observer. He worked for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for 22 years, including a stint as a deer and moose specialist.
And even though they have spotted bears near their home in the past, Monday’s sighting was unprecedented in the Dresslers’ 22 years on the lake.
“As far as cubs, these are the first ones we’ve seen,” he said of the young bears, which appear to have been born during the winter.
“It definitely got our attention, because the two of them were going at it full bore there for a while.”
Vashon explained that the bears’ behavior and vocalizations are common.
“Female bears often put their cubs up a tree when they’re foraging nearby or when they sense danger,” she said.
Dressler said a group of bears has been seen this spring along the east side of Pushaw Lake, spanning a stretch of approximately four miles. He explained that, as is common in Maine, bears have been visiting bird feeders for some easy spring meals.
“We didn’t know they were around earlier on and we lost a couple feeders,” he said. “They just totally disappeared.”
Dressler thinks some premature emptying of the nectar in their hummingbird feeder also may be attributable to bears.
“I raised it up higher, so it hasn’t been bothered since then,” he said.
They’re now putting their bird feeders in the garage at night and they also make sure their garbage is stored inside.
The bear cubs eventually grew tired of calling from the tree and climbed down to resume their travels.
“They ran around our house, circumvented it several times, and then they disappeared into the woods and it was all quiet, so I think the mother wasn’t too far away,” Dressler said.
Vashon and Dressler used the experience to share a message promoted each spring and early summer by the DIF&W.
“This is a great example of ‘if you care, leave them there,’” Vashon said of the department’s slogan promoting a hands-off approach to wildlife.
“Very rarely are these cubs truly orphaned and picking them up prevents them from going back to their mother,” she explained.
Dressler said residents who wish to limit their interactions with wild bears should be aware they will visit bird feeders, trash receptacles and even barbecue grills, if those items are left outside.
Many thanks to Rich and Marian for sharing their story.
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