Friday, August 17, 2012

Tour of the Wisconsin Black Bear Education Center

Our 4-H group had a wonderful time last night at the Wisconsin Black Bear Education Center.  We are fortunate to have this wonderful facility right here in our county.  This was my first tour, but I'm sure not my last. 

Jeff Traska and his wife manage the center.  It happens to be one of the most natural, privately owned, not-for-profit black bear education centers in the United States.  They manage 3 bears, Sonny, Vince and Moon.

Jeff told us that at one time he admired a bear from the back of his truck....but, learned nothing about them.  He said he has had a desire to help people understand the black bear, in hopes of dispelling the  myths and misconceptions that have led to the widespread, unnecesary persecution of bears.   

Black bears are extremely smart.  Even NASA is trying to figure out how they can replicate the hibernation mode in a bear's body.  Jeff does a wonderful job explaining why bears do some of the things they do in hopes of reducing human/bear conflict through education.  

He explains that a bear lives by his nose - they have a highly sensitive and unique nasal cavity.  There are 2 tiny holes in their nostrils that detect smells.  Even if a bear were blind, he could still survive in the wild by his nose.   If you happen to come upon a bear and see that it is raising up, lifting his head and opening his mouth - it is not because he is trying to kill you - he is trying to smell you.  A bear is more afraid of you than you are of it.  Just raise you hands and make a loud noise - show that you are not afraid - he will go the other way.  If you are on a hike or picking berries in the woods, before you even start, make noise, talk, sing this will give warning to a bear and they will leave. 

At this time of year, however, a bear is OCD with eating, building up their fat for hibernation.  Due to that fact, a bear might be so busy eating that you might scare one. 

I was so impressed with this tour and presentation.  His mission is to improve the lives of bears in captivity by serving as a high quality role model for bear housing and husbandry.  Job WELL DONE! 

This is Sonny, she was a real cutie.  They said she is very curious and smart.  She has even learned how to turn the waterfall on and off.  She is a prankster and loves attention.

This is Vince, he was the original bear.  He is now 12.  He is the laid back one.  He avoids conflict with the other bears and patiently waits for some attention.  Moon is 7, he made an appearance, but was off to the back to eat more acorns and berries.

The kids were throwing in acorns - Sonny was lovin it. 

Thanks - we had an awesome time!  Here is the link to their website.

Blessing from Wisconsin. 
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