Bears, bears, bears! Last week Steve and I decided to do our RV shakedown trip in an area where I would be able to photograph wildlife. More specifically, I wanted to be able to take photos of bears. Our RV site was about 10 miles from the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Center – Pungo Unit. Pungo is about a two and a half hour drive from my home so by camping out, we were able to be there for more time and more importantly, at dawn and dusk when the animals are usually most active.
We saw nine bears the first afternoon and evening that we were there. I was unable to get photos of all of them because of the light, but it was so much fun just seeing them. Most of the photos were taken with my Nikon 80-400. I have decided that I need a longer lens. 🙃
Click on any photo to bring up a slideshow of larger photos.
Bears are commonly sighted within the refuge, although, there have been many times that I have been there for most of a day and saw nothing. Sometimes, you see only parts of them in the fields. The corn had been cut but some had been left standing for the wildlife. There are drainage canals that run through the fields to help drain off water (this area is either at or below sea level) and the bears use these to keep out of sight.
From the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife website: “Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has what is believed to be one of the largest concentrations of black bear found in the southeastern United States. Limiting factors on the black bear on the refuge have been identified as the amount of blackgum mast, habitat disturbance, and availability of escape cover. Although blackgum fruit has been identified as limiting, the diet of the black bear varies with the seasons and availability of food. Spring foraging appears to be largely opportunistic with a high occurrence of ants and leaves in the diet. Blueberries and switchcane stems are preferred through the summer. Fall feeding shifts to blackgum, with winter diets consisting mainly of greenbrier, sumac, and gallberry.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at Virginia Tech completed a study of the black bear population at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in 2005. The estimated population is between 370 and 500, with a density on good habitat of three to four bears per square mile. The normal population on good habitat is one bear per square mile.”
The following bears were taken right in the middle of the day at the Alligator River Refuge. These are HUGE – honkin’ bears. They can hardly walk, they are so fat. Unfortunately, we were not there during the evening, but I bet we would have seen a lot more of them. We chose to go back to Pungo instead and that evening because I think the bears were more photogenic. Unfortunately, we did not even see one more that evening. 😟
The last bear that I will show was probably the laziest of all of these big bears. He just laid down in the corn and ate. He would move a few feet, grab an ear of corn and lay down and eat that one. The bears at the Alligator Refuge need some exercise. Don’t you agree? We had a great time in the three days that we spent up there. The bears will soon be hibernating but the Tundra swans and snow geese will arrive soon.I can’t wait to go back.