In what has become, by unanimous consent, our modus operandi , we don't dawdle after dinner but head right to our cabins, grab our camera gear, and head out to find bears. That always puts us "on" a bear with just the right of us.
A short wait on the beach at the mouth of the creek, and Crimp Ear and her cubs come over the horizon. I hope she doesn't smell salmon on my breath.
She's right into fishing mode, walking or sitting in the creek, waiting for a bright silver salmon to reveal its presence.
Suddenly she crashes through the shallow water for something about fifty feet away. None of us had heard a thing, but a bear's hearing is acute.
She comes up with a flounder. It isn't the preferred entree, as it's rather tough eating, but it's better than nothing.
Both cubs immediately start bawling for food. She chews on it a bit, then gives it to the larger cub, who runs away a distance with the flounder flopping like a trophy. Then it settles down to eat
Crimp Ear goes back to fishing while the smaller cub pesters the larger cub for food.
It's cries are heart-rending.
The small cub begs, then pretends it isn't interested, then begs again. The cub with the flounder is having a difficult time chewing and snarling at the same time while it guards its meal.
Eventually, the larger cub abandons the flounder and the smaller cub has its chance.
On another day, we see Crisp Ear catch a salmon, eat the nutritious brain and most of the rest, then give the larger cub what was left. What do we have here, I wonder. Natural selection a la Darwinism? Survival of the fittest? Or is one cub the favored cub?
Later, the same thing happens with another flounder. And again, when Crimp Ear catches a salmon, she eats most of it and leaves the rest for the larger cub.
In this video, Crimp Ear has a salmon. At the very beginning you can hear the cubs bawling.
|The smaller cub approaches and begs.|
|Note the cub's drool.|
|Crimp Ear moves away to eat in peace.|
|Followed by sea gulls, those opportunistic scroungers.|
|The larger cub approaches.|
The flounder escapade.
"They definitely show favoritism," says Rick.
So after all the dangers faced by bears--the fights, the constant search for food, the ever-present danger of death by boars, the lack of a mother's teaching--to all that and more we add a sow's preference of one cub over another.