13 Jun 2014

Bears on heat

Taken 11th June 2014 - Canon 5D Mark ii + Sigma EX 300mm F2.8

The first week of June sees the peak of the mating season for the Karhu. Males have been almost constantly moving, following the scent and tracks of female individuals for almost a month. The males lose approximately 20% of their body weight, compared to when they emerge from hibernation. By the time they head back towards their dens for winter, they will almost double their mass over late Summer and Autumn.

The male bear pictured below (Dark - n. Colliette) was one of the largest bears in the area, when I first saw him in late April. When I shared the evening with him and his mate a few nights ago, I was amazed by the extent of his weight loss, such that he looked like similar to the younger 3/4 y/o bears earlier in the season. 

During May and June, the male's can walk up to 30km per day, in the search, and in the pursuit of the female variety. This results in a more muscular and slender form, which is a welcome change to the fuller form of April and Autumn as a photographer. 

Mating season

Amongst the interesting behaviour characteristics that are shown during the mating period, there has also been a very healthy local activity of Wolverine. There are currently three individuals which have been frequenting the surrounding area. A few of the nights while I was fishing, I was fortunate enough to witness the three individuals moving along the bank of the lake together. The group is likely to consist of two parents  and one adult cub, due to Wolverine being particularly territorial, and they would simply not allow another individual in such close proximity. Whilst photographing in the hides it has been possible to get some great images of these fascinating predators. While in North America, these animals are becoming harder and harder to see in the wild, Scandinavia is fortunate enough to have small populations of Wolverine dotted about, and when in the right location at the right time, some amazing encounters can take place! 

On the move

In between focusing on the larger male bears, you can also be fortunate enough to witness some yearling cubs move through the area. These cub were born last January and are now 18 months hold. They are extremely nervous and tentative, especially at this time in the year due to the aggressive male bears. They can offer you some unique images due to this behaviour, such as the image below. This cub was on the lookout for any movement across the wetland, every few meters it would rise up on its hind legs to get a clearer view across the expanse. Male bears possess a high risk situation for these cubs, If their mother is with them and a male wishes to mate, it is possible that the male bear will try and chase off, and in the worst cases kill the cubs, to naturally kick start the females hormonal cycle, so that he will be able to mate with her in a few days.  

On the lookout