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Groundhogs, a Little Bear, and a hawk

Strolling through Wander Away in Catch the Wind, I noticed a gray, furry head poking out from the side of a large oak stump on the side of the path. I immediately stopped and reached for my camera.

stump with groundhog looking at camera
Groundhog is dead center of photo.

Inching forward, I was able to get a few shots of the young groundhog whose head was posed at the entrance to its burrow, its nose twitching for scent.

Close up on groundhog face
Sniffing the air to discover who the intruder is.

Groundhogs are fairly common sights here at the museum, and besides the Wander Away groundhog the one who resides in the Black Bear Enclosure is probably the best known. This groundhog has acquired a bit of celebrity lately due to the attention drawn to the bear yard by the introduction of our new cub. Visitors are eager to head towards the enclosure in hopes of getting a glimpse of the little bear, and of course, they invariably see the groundhog hunting down bear food.

Close up on groundhog face
The bear-yard groundhog testing the air for bear chow.

Our 9-month-old, 66-pound black bear cub, has been a challenge to see during its first week with access to the bear yard, until this morning (11/12). She came out from the protection of “her” fenced yard and dined with the three adult bears in the enclosure, Mimi, Gus, and Yona.

Small bear looks into habitat
Sticking close to fence and entrance to her “sanctuary.”  Photo taken November 11

As things are now, your best bet for seeing her is in the morning, though as time goes by and she becomes more familiar with her surroundings, and the other much larger bears, she may make more frequent and lengthy forays into the main enclosure. It’s worth the effort to hike out to the bear enclosure and give it a try.

Small bear looks away from camera
The little bear out looking for peanuts in bear enclosure. Photo taken November 11

So far, the Secondary Bear Overlook is where most sightings are occurring. I was able to get a few photos of the little bear through the chain-link fence, but again, as time goes on she’ll wander farther afield making for unobstructed views and better photos.

Just to remind everyone the best time to spot our newest black bear is in the morning (11/17). The secondary black bear overlook remains the best location to get a glimpse of the “Little Bear.”

Two bears eat together in grass field
Gus and Little Bear sharing space and food. Photo taken November 17

She’s staying out longer each day and seems to be adapting well.

2 bears face each other
More confident each day. Photo taken November 17

As always, when hiking through Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind, keep an eye out for other wildlife.

Red shouldered hawk
Red-shouldered hawk in tree directly over path.