Letters from Charlie...

Letters from Charlie...

July 16, 2005

Back on Track

The weather here at Kambalnoye has been with hardly a cloud for a week. Today it looks like the good spell is about to be broken. Jeff Turner of the BBC will be here once more on July 26th to continue the documentary that they are making. Everything that is now possible with BBC and with getting the cubs from the zoo this year would not have happened without the help of my friend Volodia Gordienko who worked with me here last year with the five cubs. I want to thank him for his magical understanding of how things work in Kamchatka. This year Volodia is my scientific partner. He will be coming back to Kambalnoye with Jeff.

After all the problems I have had getting here this year, I am finally getting back my feelings for what I long done with my efforts towards changing bears experiences with humans around the world by giving people a better understanding of them. This past year has been a long hard lesson in how to keep focus on one's goals no matter what difficulties get in one's way. There is still a lot that I want to get done to improve on these goals I set out to accomplish with the bears in Kamchatka. At times it felt as though I lost my path in the labyrinth of bureaucracy, but lately, with the help of Jeff and Sue Turner, who believe in me, and Volodia Gordienko who understands how to cut through red tape, I am on track again.

The experiences we are having with these cubs this year has been different than I have had before. It was chaotic at first because all they wanted to do was run. I suppose that it was such a relief to be free after their zoo experience, they could not believe their good fortune. It was with agile foot work (not by me), that got us through that phase. Now they are behaving more normally and our walks are under control. They are back to a more reasonable pace that gives them and us a chance to enjoy our surroundings.

The salmon and sea-run char are entering the lake now, even though about 20% of it is still ice covered at this time past the middle of July. With all the snow melt keeping the water level in the river high, the fish are able to make the 15 km journey quickly so the sockeye are still silver when they arrive. Some bears are following them to the lake because they do not have a easy time catching them in the usual places down stream. But the fish in the lake also will not be available for them until the salmon start to spawn in two or three weeks. Sometimes when the water is low on a dryer year the salmon can not get past all the bears and they have to wait for a freshet of rain to give them enough water to navigate though all the teeth and claws.

These two cubs are the smallest cubs I have ever had for their age and the least enthusiastic about food. I was told that most of the food they were getting at the zoo was out-of-date-yogurt. It must have been tasty, because we have had a difficult time to get them to eat the porridge of cooked sunflower seeds, rolled oats, sugar, and vegetable oil that years previously the other cubs have fought over. Lately they are showing more enthusiasm for it, but they should be onto solid food by this date. However, when I gave them a fish they had a big squall over who got what, then they each ate their halves quickly. They will start to grow rapidly as soon as the fish are available, which will be very soon.

The mountain slopes are getting vividly green, but the low places are still full of snow. A few days ago I walked over a drift that I know from the lay of the land is at least 50 feet deep. Many of the ravines and canyons are still full. The melting process will be happening all summer and fall and many big drifts will still be here by the time the snow flies again in early November. This means that there will be spring flowers blooming into October as the snow melts back and the plants make their rushed bid to flourish in the foreshortened time that is left for them to display their beauty. Some of the bird species such as duck, turns and gulls are having the same problem, in fact the common turns have not showed up, or at least not stayed here this year because their nesting places are still unavailable.

Will write again when Jeff Turner arrives.

Bye For Now,

Mallesh in the foreground and Andy slow up at last. They are the smallest bears for their age that I have worked with.

Charlie and Mallesh sampling the spoils of a fine day.

Volodia Gordienko. Photo taken last year, 2004.

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© Pacific Rim Grizzly Bear Co-Existence Study, 2005