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Black bear shaking off snow

Black bear shakes off the snow. Photo via Simple Variations, Pinterest.com

Bears Walking Around in the Snow?  Never!  (But, Sometimes.)

Last week I called the DEC to get information about the need to use a bear canister while camping in Harriman State Park in the winter.  The official word was that bear canisters don’t need to be used to thwart bears while camping between November 30 and April 1 — they’re in hibernation.

But I have to revise that after seeing, first, Daniela (and Shawnee*)’s January 3, 2011 post on her excellent blog, “Gone Hikin'”, which she opened with a photo of a bear paw in the newly-fallen snow on Harriman’s Red Cross trail at the intersection of Hasenclever Road:

Black bear track in the freshly-fallen white snow of Harriman State Park New York.

A snowy bear track along the Red Cross Trail in Harriman State Park indicates the presence of either a black bear, or an LL Bean Beartrack Maker. Photo via Daniela’s excellent hiker’s blog, “Gone Hikin'”.

“Seems all of the human footprints turned around and headed back at this point.”, she writes.  “Not wanting to follow behind a bear I turned right on the unmarked Hansenclever Road instead.”

And then this morning, to find this photo by Gary Scarano of the bear that visited his neighborhood:

A black bear gets out of his little car to stroll around a reader's backyard before hibernating.  Photo by Gary Scarano (who lives along the Long Trail).

A black bear gets out of his little car to stroll around a reader’s backyard before hibernating. Photo by Gary Scarano (who lives along the Long Path in Harriman).

(This picture was taken November 1, when bears are still active.  They won’t go into hibernation until later in the month.  But what a cute little car he drives!)

So I’m off in search of a bear expert to weigh in on the question of just how often these bear guys hit the snooze button in winter.  Justin, if you’re reading this: bring a bear canister. :0)

*Daniela’s shepherd is an intrepid hiker who logs 10-mile hikes when they go out.  Shawnee is also a rescued pet, and a living example of redemption by a kind-hearted person.  Please consider rescuing your next trail buddy!  He’ll love you forever.

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