An interview with a bear: Momma Jeanie
Disclaimer: This column was written for entertainment purposes only. Although bears can’t really communicate at this level with people, the author bases the answers on her experience observing this particular bear over a 15 year period.
Parts of the following interview has been translated from Ursine to English for your reading pleasure. Jeanie, was the resident matriarch of Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada. She has since passed on. This interview took place during the fall, just before heading into the den. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: So Jeanie….We’ve know each other for many years now and it’s truly been a pleasure. I’d like to thank you for taking time away from foraging to communicate with me. First of all, why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
A: Sure. The pleasure is all mine. As you know, I’m the dominant female on Whistler Mountain; the matriarch so to speak. I’m quite well known in these hills by the bruins and homosapians alike. I’m the one wearing a cinnamon brown coat, with a stunning V-shaped cream-coloured patch on my chest. My weight varies depending on the season of course on whether I’ve got cubs. But, I’m pretty distinctive looking. I think it’s my eyes. I have really distinctive eyes. People must think I’m very pretty because they photograph me all the time.
Q: I’m dying to know… do you think you’re going into hibernation pregnant?
A: I’m hoping so. Last year, I didn’t have cubs. I was kind’a lonely. I like having cubs around. They’re fun to hang with. I really enjoy teaching them the ropes.
Q: Offspring can be difficult! What do you feel are the essential lessons to give your cubs before they set out on their own?
A: I think it’s important to teach your cubs where and when to find the best, most highly nutritious foods and secondly how to stand up for yourself to other bears, but also how to avoid trouble with humans.
Q: How are bears most likely get into trouble with the people?
A: The biggest problem is getting caught looking for food in human territory, especially in the middle of town, which as you know is right at the edge of my home range. The only time I’ve ever taken my cubs into town is when I didn’t think they had enough weight to survive hibernation. And even then, I only took them in when it was dark. I mean… really, what’s a mother to do? You just do your best and hope humans can show a little tolerance for the struggles we face.
Q: How often do you see your cubs after they’ve grown up?
A: Not much…. some of my daughters have stayed close to my home range. They become pretty independent though and don’t like to hang around with their mother. But, every once in a while, we meet, nuzzle and say “hey”. I hardly ever see my sons. They usually leave the area.
Q: Where are your favourite places to hang out?
A: I like to hang out on the north face of Whistler Mountain. Unfortunately, now, that’s in the middle of the Mountain Bike Park. I do my best to stay away from the bikers, but I have been hit before. I’m very worried for my cubs. They can’t get out of the way as quickly as I can. And they’re just not as human-aware.
Q: How do you feel about bear viewing tours?
A: To be honest, I don’t really mind too much. I think I’m pretty tolerant for a bear. I can appreciate that folks are totally in awe of my presence. I like being admired so much! But, what I LOVE the very very most is when people admire my cubs. I’m a very proud momma. And it pleases me to no end, when the homosapiens “ooh” and “awe” over my babies. [Sigh]…. Makes we want to weep just thinking about it.
Q: What kind of guy do you like to mate with or does it matter?
A: I like my mates to be big and strong. I kind’a like a guy with attitude. I’m not too fussy on the younger dudes. I’m looking for a mate who has strong survival instincts. I want my cubs to come from good gene stock. I kind’a had a thing for Slim, even though he was younger, but he’s gone now. Just disappeared one day. I heard some humans saying that he had been hit by a car. Very sad! I really miss him.
Q: How did you become the matriarch of the mountain?
A: Attitude, my friend. I reign because I can.
Q: What would be your vision of a better world for bears as well as for people (and other animals)?
A: I envision a world where peace prevails and we can all just get along. I think bears deserve more respect than we get. I’d also like to have plentiful berries every year all season long. I sure love my berries. My favourite are red huckleberries. Yummy!
Thanks for your time my beautiful friend. I’ll see you on the mountains.