Category Archive 'Brown Bear'

10 Feb 2019

Size Comparison

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A 30″ brown bear skull and an average Alaskan black bear skull. (photo: Phil Shoemaker.)

15 Jan 2010

Bear-damaged Plane Repaired With Duct Tape Then Flown Home

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The plane is a Piper PA-18A 150 registered to Mr. Jonathan L. Miller of Anchorage Alaska


Gizmodo
was not sure the story of the pilot repairing a bear-damaged plane with duct tape and flying it home was true, but liked the story so much they linked it anyway.

The original story (and photos) came from an Army Paratrooper forum posting, which gave no details beyond blaming the bear’s assault on the plane on fishing bait left inside.


Jill Burke
, at Alaska Dispatch, looked into this exurban legend, tracked down witnesses and recorded the actual story.

When bush pilot Luke Miller, 28, made an overnight stop at a friend’s hunting lodge in Southwest Alaska earlier this year, he had no way to know that a large and very dedicated menace would, under cover of night, chew and claw his plane to shreds. …
What follows is the tale of the bear’s destruction spree and the plane’s revival as told by the pilot’s dad, Mark Miller, and family friend and hunting guide Gary LaRose, who first discovered the bear’s fabric-eating, metal-bending offense.

Contrary to some reports, it wasn’t a fishy aroma that lured the bear in. The plane wasn’t full of fish, nor had it just been used to haul fish. The pilot didn’t radio for help — he used a cell phone — and the incident isn’t a hoax dating back nine years; it happened around Sept. 26 and 27, 2009.

And yes, duct tape and plastic wrap saved the day.

LaRose had already had a few run-ins with the brown bruin, which discovered it could use the new meat shed at LaRose’s lodge like a McDonald’s drive-through. One night, after breaking out a window, the bear grabbed a hindquarter of freshly-butchered moose, feasting on 60 to 70 pounds of it as it dangled through the window, still hanging from the rafters.
LaRose boarded up the window, and after returning from a guided silver salmon trip, butchered the remaining moose meat, put it in the freezer and cleaned and bleached the space to eliminate all traces of the meat.

The next night, the bear pushed out a screen. Two nights later he returned again, got the door open and knocked over a bucket of broken glass collected after the first break-in.

Miller stopped in a day or two later on his way to a piloting job for another guide. A storm was moving through with heavy rain and 25 to 30 mile per hour winds, and LaRose’s lodge offered a comfortable place for a night of rest. Offered a choice to tie down the plane out in the open, or about 60 feet from the shed, where it would be better sheltered, he chose the area by the shed.

“I figured the bear situation was done,” La Rose said. “The meat had been gone for three or four days and I figured it got the message.”

Early the next morning after a night of howling winds, in the dark before sunrise, a client reported another meat shed break-in to LaRose, who took a walk to check things out and discovered the bear had once again pulled out a window, but otherwise had done no damage.

No damage, that is, until LaRose remembered Miller’s plane.

“My headlamp hit Luke’s plane and it was literally destroyed,” he said. “My heart sank. It was just an unbelievable sight.”

LaRose was faced with the unhappy task of waking Miller up to tell him the bear had destroyed the 1958 Piper Cub’s wheels by clawing at the rubber, busted out the windows on the plane’s left side, and shredded fabric from rear windows to tail.

“He basically ravaged the whole plane,” LaRose said, adding that, in his 38 years as a pilot in Alaska, he has never seen anything like it.

Miller had a small amount of vacuum-sealed meat for personal use stored in plastic and stashed in the gear he had brought along for his upcoming job assignment. Despite all the damage done to the plane, the bear missed it. LaRose questions whether the bear was even able to smell it, and said Miller’s plane was otherwise clean.

Miller grew up in a family that owns a remote lodge and learned early on to scrub planes down with bleach, soap and water after hauling meat. He had transported caribou a few weeks earlier, and LaRose said he supposes it’s possible there was a hint of blood on board, but he’s skeptical, and thinks there’s a better explanation — one having to do with the bear’s fondness for the meat shed and its proximity to the plane.

“He was pissed,” LaRose said. “His easy food source had dried up and he was out for revenge.”

If malice was indeed the motivation, the bear knew how drive the point home. It took a dump next to its handiwork near Miller’s plane, LaRose said, and left a similar gift not too far away near where other planes were tied down.

After a few days of meticulous fix-it work, the plane was airworthy enough to fly back to Anchorage. Miller fitted the windows with plywood and Plexiglas, replaced the tires and the horizontal stabilizer (the bear either leaned on it or sat on it), and, according to Miller’s dad, fashioned a makeshift fabric skin out of 25 rolls of duct tape and some industrial-strength plastic wrap.

As for the bear, it hasn’t been seen since. It may have been “whacked” during bear hunting season in October, or it may be playing it smart. After all, bears know when it’s time “to get the hell out of Dodge,” according to the LaRose.

Then again, it may be off enjoying a satisfied rest.

“He’s off digesting some fabric right now. He just disappeared into the night. He doesn’t know how famous he is,” the pilot’s father, Mark Miller, said.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

15 Feb 2009

Eagles Take Bear Cubs

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bear and bald eagle

Accounts of eagles carrying off lambs are sometimes discounted by skeptics, and stories of eagles posing a predation threat to small children have long provoked derision. Eagles just aren’t bold enough or strong enough, the experts will tell you.

One wonders if this article in Ursus, the journal of the International Association for Bear Research and Management won’t cause some to reconsider their views.

Abstract:

During spring 2004 an adult female brown bear (Ursus arctos) and her 3 cubs-of-the-year were observed outside their den on a south-facing low-alpine slope in central Norway. They remained near the den for 8–10 days and were, except for one day, observed daily by Totsås and other wardens of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate. On 25 April, as the family was moving along the edge of a steep, treeless slope and down a snowdrift, the smallest cub, at the back of the group, was attacked by a golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The cub vocalized loudly as it was lifted off the ground and carried away. The eagle was still carrying the cub when it flew into cloud cover and was lost from view. Although no remains were found, it is probable that the eagle killed the cub. This paper describes the circumstances of the incident and relates it to other observations of attacks by eagles on young bears in Europe and North America.

Hat tip to Cat Urbigkit via Karen L. Myers.

15 Feb 2008

Polish WWII Veterans Seek Memorial For Mascot Bear

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Voytek, a Eurasian Brown Bear picked up as a cub in Iran in 1943 by the Second Polish Transport Company, accompanied the unit through the rest of the war. In order to transport the bear to the European theatre, he had to be listed on the unit’s rolls, and was even given a rank and serial number. The bear served through the Italian campaign, including the Battle of Monte Cassino, and was trained to carry mortar rounds.

Rather than be mustered out in Communist Poland, many Poles remained in Britain, including Voytek, who spent his retirement in the Edinburgh Zoo. Voytek died in 1963.

Daily Mail story.


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