The Old Girl Lives

The Old Girl. Photo by Bjorn Dihle

There is a famous bear at Pack Creek. A matriarch of the meadow who has been there for decades. No one is sure how old she is. But we can confirm that as of yesterday, she is still here!

One of these winters will likely be her last. Throughout this past winter we all wondered and speculated. She had ended the summer looking thin and ragged. There was very lis ittle snow pack to insulate the dens. She must already be so old.

Yesterday was my first day on the ground at Pack Creek this year. We saw a few other bears before she hobbled out onto the mud flats. She broke her leg years ago, a compound fracture that somehow healed. Like most female bears, she has a small home range and tends to stick close to Pack Creek.

Some speculate that she was a cub born in 1984, but FS Manager John Neary is skeptical. Bears in the wild may live to be an old bear at 25. If this bear is over 30, she is an ancient great grandmother. I suppose it is still impolite to inquire about someone’s age.

Either way, she is the first bear I ever saw at Pack Creek, years before I guided there. She is the bear that nearly stomped Ken Leghorn and I when we accidentally woke her from a nap. She is incredibly tolerant of people and has been an ambassador for bears. We are thrilled to see her.

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