“Until the first big snowstorm, I usually walked the length of the MRG every morning from 0430 to 0630. I usually have a headlamp on so that I can watch out for skunks, fallen tree limbs and crazy bicyclists who don’t use any headlamps even though it’s pitch black out. I also like the headlamp because you can then see what’s in the woods looking back at you. A week before I took the Owl shot, I was about to cross the wood bridge going downhill from Renihan Meadows area. It was pitch black out and I heard a rustling in the trees right above my head. I looked up with my headlamp and there was a Barred Owl looking back at me right over my head. It was sooo cool. Then about a week later, I was out on the Trail, halfway between the powerline cutout and the P&C access road. I just happened to look right up the ridge line and saw a Barred Owl. Next thing I know, the owl flies right down to the edge of the trail and perched himself on a limb only about ten feet from me, and just sat there. I couldn’t believe it. I took the shot.” – Dan Moriarty
A young woman rollerblading on the MRG this week had one of these caterpillars drop from a tree and down her shirt. The bristles caused a stinging sensation and turned into a burning rash. (As if Covid-19 and murder hornets aren’t enough!) Unfortunately, she tried to brush the burning away, which further embedded the bristles. She has since learned that applying tape to draw the bristles out is a better solution!) With this caterpillar – look but don’t touch!
A juvenile black bear was spotted on the MRG on Saturday near the Timken bridge. It quickly clambered over a fence and was gone. (Most bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming.) Though a rare sight, it is a good reminder that dogs should be leashed and we all should know how to calmly handle such a sighting:
Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by wooﬁng, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.
Pick up small children and dogs immediately.
Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase ﬂeeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
Leave the area or take a detour. If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.
Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.
Thanks to the National Park Service for most of this information.