Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Going on a Bear Hunt!

We took a field trip to Western Carolina Wildlife Education Center.  We love going to this little gem and learning about the world around us.  The nature programs are amazing and we just can't get enough!  This time we brought a group of friends to experience it.

The topic:  Black Bears of North Carolina.  Of course, this is our favorite bear.  The black bear is much smaller than the Grizzly bear and less threatening.  We learned about the habitat of the local black bear.  Ranger Matt led a lively discussion about urbanite bears.  He discussed how they track bears and how there really isn't bear relocation.  The male bear has a territory of 15,000 acres and the female 4,000 acres.  Troublesome bears that can't be rehabilitated often have to be put down.  He stressed the importance not feeding the bears and keeping all food sources locked up.

He showed us a grizzly bear skull and then a black bear skull.  The difference was amazing!  We learned about the diet of the black bear and where they like to eat in the area versus the diet of the grizzly.

Black bear skull

Grizzly bear skull

After a brief time in the classroom, we went outside and the children were given the task to draw a black bear.  Using a grid approach to drawing, each participant drew part of the black bear.  This was a fun exercise to show the students the size of the bear.

Then we went on a bear tracking hunt.  This was the best part to actually see bear tracks!  We went through the woods and down to the river.  There were tracks in muddy places.  There were tracks around the riverbanks.  The rangers were just as excited as the kids!  Ranger Patrick said that based on one set of tracks the bear was probably 400 or more pounds.  Glad we didn't run into it!

After the hike, we went back into the classroom to discuss everything we had learned and saw.  Then back outside to play one final game before leaving.

We can't wait to have another class!