Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



BLANE KLEMEK OUTDOORS: Black bears will soon begin to awaken from their winter naps

The sleepy male bear that was recently extricated from a frozen, roadside culvert near Wannaska got me thinking about some of my own interactions with black bears.

Black bears aren't shy about stealing food from birdfeeders and whatever food sources they may happen upon in your yard.
Courtesy / Pixabay

The sleepy male bear that was recently extricated from a frozen, roadside culvert near Wannaska, Minn., by DNR staff and volunteers, was a story that ended well for the bear.

The groggy bear was transported to a secluded spot in a nearby state wildlife management area where it could sleep the rest of the winter in peace. The story got me thinking about some of my own stories.

Almost 30 years ago on a warm summer night, while I was reclining on the couch watching television, my attention was averted from the screen by a fluttering moth outdoors and flying against the large picture window. It was attracted to the lights indoors as most nighttime insects are. The night was pitch black and there was not a hint of moonlight.

As I lay there watching the moth flying up and down the length of the window, I was startled when something pink suddenly appeared that seemed to “lick” the moth off the glass. For a moment I remained on the couch trying to figure out what I might have just seen.

I then got up and walked to the entryway of the house nearest to the window. But before I opened the outside door, I flicked the outside light on as I simultaneously turned the doorknob and pulled the door quickly open to have a look.


Nothing was there. All was quiet.

Befuddled but not defeated, I turned and entered the house and walked across the living room on my way to the screened porch. Following close behind me was our golden retriever, Simon.

As I slid open the patio door and entered the porch, I glanced down at Simon — all his back hair was standing up and he was emitting a low growl. Opening the outside porch door, Simon leaped into the night, barking wildly, as he quickly disappeared into the woods.

Returning to the house for a flashlight, I could hear Simon through the house off in the distance barking. When I stepped outdoors with the flashlight, I began searching the ground for a sign, any sign, of the pink thing.

Waving the flashlight around in hopes of finding confirmation for what I assuredly saw (a.k.a. “pink thing”), I found myself in front of the very window where the pink thing was last observed.

I pointed the flashlight to the ground beneath the windowsill, on the sidewalk, on the grass, everywhere, including the window itself. Scanning the window slowly with the flashlight beam, I eventually directed the beam of bright light smack dab against the siding of the house below the window.

Ever so slowly I continued the beam’s direction across the full face of the window, back and forth, until I at last saw it. Not one, but two, smudge marks. Hmmm.

The pink thing was indeed a novice when it came to licking moths from the window. The first lick was unsuccessful, but the second lick was right on target. And the target was that helpless moth I watched vanish when I was reclining on the couch moments before.


Still, was the pink thing really what I saw? I mean, a couple of smears on the window didn’t solve the mystery, did it? But wait a minute. The windowsill!

Looking down and illuminating the windowsill with the flashlight, the pink thing’s identity was confirmed. I smiled a little victory smile and was glad the pink thing was no longer something unbelievable, but something that had plantigrade feet, long claws at the ends of 10 digits, and fur as black as night.

Yep. I was looking at the genuine and unmistakable tracks of the only thing the pink thing could be. The pink thing belonged to a black thing; and that black thing was none other than one, big, bold and hungry black bear.

Bears will do the darndest things, that’s for certain. This same bear visited my home a few more times until I quit feeding wild birds birdseed and sugar water.

The bear even removed the suction-cup-style hummingbird feeders from the kitchen window. But once I removed the food sources, the bear stopped his raids.

Indeed, black bears will begin awakening from their winter naps soon, and many of us will observe backyard bears once again, as we get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

Blane Klemek is a Minnesota DNR wildlife manager. He can be reached at bklemek@yahoo.com.

Blane Klemek WEB.jpg

What To Read Next
Get Local