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Category Archives: Black Bear

It had been a number of years since we last visited the Vince Schute Wildlife Sanctuary so we decided to make a return trip. The Sanctuary got its start back in the 40’s as a logging camp. Bears kept breaking into the cook shack searching for food. For a number of years the loggers shot the bears. One day Vince Schute decided there might be a better way to solve the problem so he tried feeding them. It was so successful that what started out as one bear on the dole turned into close to a hundred. By the time Vince died friends were helping him feed the bears. Today it is a coordinated effort of many volunteers. A Raised observation platform was build to protect the bears from the tourists. Volunteers are on hand to explain bear behavior and talk about the bears who visit the sanctuary. Most of them have names and a history with the Sanctuary. If you have never visited Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary it is something you should put on your bucket list. Our visits have been the last two weeks in August and we have been fortunate to see many bears.

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These two were probably yearlings. They were in a tree right next to the viewing platform during the entire time we were there. They were either playing or sleeping during the evening. The last photo answers the age old question “Do bears s**** in the woods?”

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During this visit there were probably 50 bears in the area. It was a hot night so they were not as active as our last visit. Staff walk among the bears feeding them a combination of nuts, grains and honey. We were asked not to photograph the individuals doing the feeding. Feed is placed on rocks, stumps and in troughs made out of logs. Notice that the bears can be a little protective of their food. The last photo is of a bear that was full and decided to take a break.

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This yearling was having his problems. Every time he heard another bear huff he would race up the tree. When the perceived danger left the area he would come down only to race up the tree when the next bear came along. It didn’t help that there was a feeding station at the bottom of the tree. The third picture shows why he didn’t want to come down the tree. Finally at end of the evening he was able to have a little dinner all to himself.

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On this visit we saw about 15 cubs most of them in trees.  This was one of the smallest cubs we saw on our visit and was born this spring. He had climbed higher into the trees than the other cubs and was a crowd favorite. While we were watching he climbed way up into the tree. The last photo shows a small cub on the ground with its mother. This one was probably also born this spring. We were told that late in the evening the cubs would come down out of the trees.

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This bear was the only one tagged and collared. He was part of an ongoing research project being conducted by the Minnesota DNR. The ear tags were supposed to protect him from hunters. Hunting is allowed in the area but is discouraged on ethical grounds because the bears in the area are used to being around people.

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Linda put together a show of eight of my photos at the Menomonie Public Library. She did all of the printing, matting and framing of the photos. I just took the pictures. They will be on display through the month of April.

There are four Landscape photos.

Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park

Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park

Apostle Islands Sea Cave

Apostle Islands Sea Cave Cornucopia, Wisconsin

Crex Meadows

Crex Meadows Grantsburg ,Wisconsin

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Seney National Wildlife Refuge Seney, Michigan

 

There are four wildlife Photos

Goslings

Goslings Hoffman Hills Recreation Area Menomonie, Wisconsin

Black Bear

Black Bear Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary Orr, Minnesota

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Canadian Hill Farm Menomonie, Wisconsin

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies Fontenac State Park Fontenac, Monnesota

 

I had hoped to get up to Crex during spring ice out but with 80 degree temperatures in March the ice went fast and I didn’t make it. This week I finally was able to make the trip. As I normally do I arrive in the late afternoon and tour the Meadows to see what is going on. After dinner I drive around again for some evening shots and hopefully some sunset shots. The next morning I go back out for some sunrise shots and spend the morning driving round.

American Coots

Ring-necked Duck

There wasn’t a lot to see in the afternoon. I managed to capture some shots of various ducks mainly in Phantom Lake. There were quite a few Ring-necked Ducks along with some American Coots, Blue-winged Teal, Mallards and a nesting pair of Red-necked Grebes.

Canada Geese

There were also lots of Canada Geese with their little ones all along the dike roads. As I approached they would run in every direction. They were growing fast and were starting to lose their yellow down. For some reason when I approached they always wanted to go to the other side of the road. I really had to be careful because the parents would walk across the road with most of the little ones but stragglers would keep popping out of the weeds and dash across the road.

American Beaver

As a drove south along Phantom Lake I noticed a beaver house and what looked like a beaver sitting along the water’s edge. There was enough vegetation so I couldn’t get a good look. After dinner I drove back to where I thought I had seen the beaver. Sure enough there was one swimming in the flowage alongside the dike road. I’m not sure what he was up to since he kept swimming back and forth but didn’t seemed to be engaged in any meaningful activity. After shooting for about ten minutes went to pick up my tripod and managed drag one leg in the road. This apparently startled the beaver and there was a loud sound as the beaver slapped its tail and went under.

American Beaver

As I walked back to the car I noticed a second beaver across the road. He seemed to be trying to figure out why the alarm was sounded by the first Beaver. Soon he went back to eating on a branch he had in the water. I watched him for another ten minutes before leaving. That evening I probably saw six or seven beaver.

In addition to the beaver there quite a few muskrats active in the flowages.

Sunset

Sunset was a little disappointing. I thought it might be spectacular because there quite a few clouds but clear sky on the western horizon. I spent my time photographing the sunset along Dike 1 flowage. in this shot a group of Sandhill Cranes were captured with the sunset in the background.

Sunrise

In the morning my alarm didn’t go off but I manage to wake up only about 15 minutes later than I wanted to. As I drove out to the Meadows I could see it wasn’t going to be a spectacular sunrise so I picked a spot along Phantom Lake to photograph what there was to it.

Pickerelweed

I like to photograph reeds and flowers in the water on my visits to Crex. It was a little early for water flowers. The Pickerelweed and Lilly Pads were just emerging and there were only a few reeds up yet. A variety of flowers are also out now including Lupine, Hoary Puccoon, and Birds-foot Violets

Black Bear

As I was driving along one of the back roads I noticed something large and black along the road. It turned out to be a large black bear. This is the second year in a row that I’ve seen a black bear at Crex. Last year one ran out in front of the car and ran in front of the car for about 70 yards. He was going about 20 miles an hour. I had three cameras on the front seat and still managed not to get a photo. This year I had the presence of mind to get a quick shot through the windshield.

Sandhill Crane

I also was lucky enough to see two pair of Sandhill Cranes with their chicks. In both cases they were walking along the dike roads. In the first instance I didn’t notice the chicks until both parents had crossed the road. The chicks then dashed out into the road following their parents. I watched them in the grass for a while but could only see brief glimpses of the chicks in the tall grass. All the time the parents were making a sound something like a cooing Morning Dove. I assume this was so the chicks could find them in the long grass.

Sandhill Cranes

The second pair were near the entrance to the dike road at Phantom Lake. I saw the parents trying to get across the road but another car was coming so one made it and the other did not. One of the parents walked along the road doing a killdeer routine pretending to be an injured bird. The other parented walked along the lake. When the second car left I could hear the one parent making the cooing sound so I waited and sure enough a couple of chicks came out of the grass along the road.

It was a good trip with my first shot of a Black Bear, Sandhill Crane Chicks and a Gopher.

More photos of Crex Meadows in the spring can be found on my website.

Sunset Union Bay

Yesterday was one of the strangest days I’ve ever had. The day took a strange turn starting the evening before. When I checked into the motel I asked for a 4am wakeup call so I could get up and photograph the 5am sunrise at Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Wilderness State Park. The clerk didn’t think I could get a 4am wakeup call because the bar closed at 2am (apparently it was not an automated system). I was fine with that. Later, as I was photographing the sunset at Union Bay I remembered that although the Michigan border towns observed CDT, White Pine was on EDT. In other words I should be getting up at 5am EDT rather than 4am. Since I didn’t think I was going to get a wakeup call I forgot about it.

 

Sunrise Lake of the Clouds

Sure enough the next morning I received a wakeup call at 3:45 am (2:45am CDT. This should have alerted me that this was going to be a crazy day. When I arrived at Lake of the Clouds and setup the camera I noticed there were lots of birds around. I moved away from the camera to check out another shooting location and when I turned around there was a bird sitting on the camera. This was definitely a first. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of this. To top it off the sunrise was not all that spectacular.

 

Hooded Merganser Family

A little later in the morning I was walking along the shore of Lake Superior at Union Bay. As I approached some rocks along the shore I noticed a  Hooded Merganser moving out into the lake. All of a sudden there was a flurry of movement among the rocks and I saw a bunch of babies dashing to follow mom. They raced as fast as they could and ran right up onto mom’s back. I think there were seven in all and at one point five of them were riding on mom’s back. She seem to follow along as I walked down the shoreline. The babies would dismount and mount as mom paddled down the lake. Another first for me. I was a little far away but I did manage a shot of the action.

 

I then started driving out of the park on South Boundary Road. Something caught my eye along the edge of the road. It was a baby bird and it started to dash across the road in front the car. There wasn’t much I could do and I drove over the bird. I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed the bird lying on the road. I thought for sure it was dead. All of a sudden it jumped up and quickly finished its dash across the road. I think the wind from the car must have blown it over. Another first.

 

A short time later I saw what I thought were some black garbage bags along the road and wondered what was up with that. As I drew closer I discovered it wasn’t garbage bags but a medium sized black bear. He looked at the car and fortunately headed for the woods.

 

Frog

Not long afterwards something hit the driver’s side windshield. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was but it turned out to be a frog. He got himself oriented as I drove along the road and stayed with me until I found a place to pull over and remove him from the windshield. The only thing I can think of was that it fell out of a tree along the road. Another first. This is a shot of the frog through the windshield.

 

Overlooked Falls

Next I noticed a doe and two fauns along the road and was so busy looking at them that I started to drive off of the road. Apparently I steer the car in the direction I’m looking. Fortunately I looked up just as I was about to hit a guardrail. After that I needed a break so I stopped at the Little Carp River to take a few waterfall photos.

 

I thought things would end once I made it off of South Boundary road but they didn’t. Driving south of Mellon, Wisconsin on county GG a small black bear, probably born last year, made a full speed dash across the road in front of the car. I slammed on the breaks but still hit him. I think I must of just hit his hind quarters. He kept going full speed into the woods. There wasn’t any place to stop so I kept going until I found a place to pull over. I checked the car for damage and couldn’t find any. After some reflection I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and decided I wasn’t about to go back and walk into the woods to check on the condition of a wild black bear. Another first.

 

I finally managed to make it home without any more incidents.