As a camp counselor in the Adirondacks, Alyssa Johnson sees black bears as vagrants, nosing into trash bins for something a picky camper left behind.
But at Finger Lakes Community College, Alyssa has seen another side of the forest-dwelling Ursus americanus: the cowboy side.
It seems that every so often black bears will purposely mosey through the woods with a bit of a swagger, kicking their legs out to make their trail wider. Then they purposefully retread these footprints, leaving depressions that can be the size of dinner plates.
It’s an odd behavior, and it turns out, no one has gathered much data on it — until last fall when Alyssa enrolled in professor John Van Niel’s bear management class. Continue reading