black bear marking territoryContributors to this thread:
Big Lew 05-Nov-09
Dave G. 05-Nov-09
Big Lew 05-Nov-09
From: Big Lew
Has anyone come upon any black bear marking trees? A well known environmentalist, David Susuki, many years ago made a statement that black bears don't make, or leave scratching, or marking trees. I have back packed into many coastal headwaters and mountians and seen several such marking trees. I have seen over 150 black bears of all shapes, sizes, and colours, and many grizzlies, so am well aware of their differences. I had to cut short one such trip into a side canyon steming from the upper stave river in British Columbia once because there were no save places to make camp as all suitable spots had bear trails through them. Well within this canyon there was a well marked tree, and freshly used. The claw marks were as high as I could reach, so I set my packsack against the tree, climbed on top and scratched the tree with my hunting knife, then, after removing the packsack, I urinated on the base of the tree. I doubt I fooled the boss of the area, but I chuckle every time I think about it, even after 15 years.
I was in a tree stand and could see the road from where I was. Some guy pulled his truck over, walked in my woods road and marked his territory. I considered firing my 50 cal muzzle loader into the ground but decided against it. I'll bet he would have got his pants wet.
From: Dave G.
I believe Susuki is incorrect. I've seen markings on all kinds of trees, and suspect that its not only a territorial thing, but also has a lot to do with mating rituals.
Here's some photo evidence...
I have seen bears making the territorial markers; and have seen them a lot over the years. what the bear does is lean its back to the tree; and rubs its back a little; then reaches back with its mouth and takes a small bite out of the tree. The bears I have seen did this very honestly; they did not get stretch to make the mark further up the tree. I have then seen other bears come in and size up the mark; and if they are taller; they will mark it further up the tree. If not they tend to leave the marker tree alone other than to smell it. A marker tree will normally have no scratches on it; or claw marks.
this is another tree with an old sapped over marker on it; it is further up the tree than my longbow is tall.
My house and land are in the middle of a group a group of 22 individual bears that I have identified over the years. Bears eat the cambium layer but I have never seen them mark a tree in a territorial fashion. They do not have scent gland in their paws like cats do. When they do mark trees in my observation it has been sows with cubs up the tree or a sow that has treed someone else’s older cubs. Boars typically paw the ground to say, hey I was here. I have a Vine Maple bow that has 3 claw marks in the back. I got the stave from a tree a bear had scratched. There were little scratches up the tree from the big scratches so I assume it was a sow communicating with her cubs.
Well; they scratch trees with their claws on the way up trees. That is different than a territorial marking tree.
From: Big Lew
I have seen trees where bears have rubbed and bit chunks out of the bark as high as they probably could reach, but I have also seen trees very clawed up in the same fashion. The tree I was referring to had both, as well as rub marks(hair) and had been used by more than one animal over a long period. I haven't been up there for a few years, but if I do well recovering from my latest cancer operation, I hope to hike into that watershed again, and if I do I will take some pictures.