By Orville Page, Ranger Naturalist
On the morning of July 31, 1954, I was making my way toward the rim of the lake. As I approached a meadow area, I chanced upon a Columbian blacktailed doe and her two fawns. The interesting part of the observation was that the two fawns were busily nursing the doe. As quietly as possible the camera was made ready, but the ever-alert mother sensed the presence of an intruder. Before a picture could be taken, mother and offspring were bounding gently and gracefully off through the meadow, leaving a disappointed photographer but a greatly enriched observer of nature.
By Richard M. Brown, Assistant Park Naturalist
William Rosenbalm -- Bill to many of us -- Truckdriver during the 1955 season, has served as a member of the maintenance staff in the park for several summers. He is therefore particularly well acquainted with the area, and he has come to know and recognize individually many of the bears that live here. On September 12, 1955, I finally found the long-awaited opportunity to chat with him for a while about "our" bears and to visit with him one of the places in the park bears frequently gather.
My patience was well rewarded by a most interesting conversation and a view of more bears at liberty that I had ever before seen all at one time. During this period, fourteen different bears, including eight adults and six cubs, were in evidence at one time or another. This occasion also gave me a chance to summarize Bill's knowledge as of that date concerning the bear population in the park, with particular reference to the latest additions. The most recent previous study of the bears in this respect is that of Roland D. Walters (1953. Observations and census of the black bear in Crater Lake National Park. Nature Notes from Crater Lake 19:26-28), who reported a total of forty-one; this included twenty-two adults, six second-year cubs, and thirteen first-year cubs.
As a result of my discussion with Bill, thirty-two bears of the park's total were accounted for as of that time. Of these, thirteen are adults and nineteen are cubs: the latter are all assumed to be first-year cubs. In spite of some possible error in this assumption, this indicates that the number of first-year cubs may be on the increase; in any event, according to the available data, it is not decreasing. Of course, a certain number of bears is overlooked in any estimate such as this.
The distribution of these bears by color phase is as follows: adults, ten black and three brown; cubs, thirteen black and six brown. Grouping them by families, and including odd individuals, gives this result: one black mother with three black cubs; two black mothers (one being Sally, each with three cubs, two black and one brown; one black mother with three cubs, two brown and one black; one black mother with two black cubs; one brown mother with two black cubs; one black mother with two cubs, one black and one brown; one black mother with one brown cub; Sandy, a brown male about five years old; Charlie, a black sister to Sandy; one black female, characterized by a light-colored "necklace" that continues down toward her belly as a stripe and by a flattened appearance when seen from the front, which has made herself quite a nuisance in the East Entrance area this summer; another black female; and one brown male. Perhaps the most unusual feature made evident by this compilation is the relatively high proportion of families, exactly one-half, having triplets.
Bill Rosenbalm certainly provides an outstanding example of the values that may be gained by patient and persistent observation of our wildlife. I know that he has found it a fascinating experience; this can be seen simply by the way he behaves when he is near the bears and by the way he talks about them. I am most grateful to Bill for his having shared with me the interest, enthusiasm, and fund of knowledge which he has found through his association with these animals.
(A later report by Bill Rosenbalm, recorded in the observation file and dated October 21, 1955, indicates an additional family consisting of a black mother with two black cubs; in the family consisting of a black mother with a single cub, the cub apparently should be classed as black rather than brown. This gives a total of thirty-five bears including, fourteen adults and twenty-one cubs. ---R.M.B.)
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