Apple Raiders

There are a great many apple trees around Kootenay Lake—a legacy of bygone orchards. It is likely that only the animals know the location of many of those trees now. In earlier years, I had casually watched one of the trees and had learned what others have long known: by the time the apples would have been worth picking, they were already gone. Each August, Bear Aware suggests picking fruit early lest it attract bears. So, is that what happened? Were all those apples taken by bears?

Bear danger around homes  There are remarkably few human deaths from bears in BC. An analysis of nearly three decades found only 133 deaths from any animal across the Province. Of these, bears caused 19 deaths (none around the Lake); bees and wasps 16, moose and deer 24, and horses 47. Yet, most of the 19 deaths bears did cause took place in uninhabited wilderness, with only three being near buildings: so about one death per decade in BC. The numbers don’t reveal bears to be the threat that some would have us believe. BC Vital Statistics

Wouldn’t it be interesting to watch a tree for a while in the late summer to see what visits?

Not unexpectedly, bears did come—but, so did many other animals. Indeed, there is an extensive range of local wildlife which uses such a resource. Below is a sample of the apple raiders of Kootenay Lake.

(All of these pictures were taken of visitors to the same tree. The selection of images, below, over represents bears; the most frequent visitors were deer. All the Ursidae which came were Black Bear—no Grizzly; all the Cervidae which came were White–tailed Deer—no Mule Deer, Elk or Moose.)

brownish black bear tracksPerhaps the most intimidating–looking of the visitors to the little apple tree, this chocolate–coloured Black Bear visited early in September. Moments after this picture was taken, the bear attempted to reach the fruit (below, left).

bear and treeThis is the same bear as above, now lifting a forepaw in a (failed) attempt to grab apples from the tree. Its darker shade merely reflects the inadequacies of the flash.

doe and apple treePerhaps the earliest visitor of the season, and, indeed, the most frequent was the resident White–tailed doe. Well, I think that two different does visit, one with a fawn, one without.

fawn and doeI don’t often see the fawn come around—I think its mother and it must live farther away than does the other doe. I have seen a doe get an apple off the ground that a bear had knocked down but then neglected.

doe and fawnThe doe and its fawn are exploring the ground below the tree.

bear ponders appleA bear ponders an apple on the ground below the tree. A moment later, the apple is gone (below).

bear eats appleA moment after the picture, above, the bear has eaten the apple.

coyoteI would not have guessed that a Coyote would take any interest in an apple tree, but it has visited a few times. Of course, it may have been on the prowl for other things—but, there it was.

buck and treeAnother frequent visitor is this White-tailed buck. It has to strain to reach the lower branches.

white-tailed buckThe buck came by for a nibble often enough that I managed to get it in this classic pose in front of the tree.

bear standingIf necessary stand and shake the branches. The bear got nothing—the tree was empty—but, still the bear came and tried.

skunkA skunk has rummaged around under the tree a few times.

four raccoonsRaccoons seem to know a good thing when they encounter it; they visited frequently.

bearAfter (seemingly) posing, this bear shook the tree and scarfed up some apples which fell—but left some which were soon eaten by deer. Despite the apparent shoulder hump, this is not a grizzly, but a black bear with an awkward stance.

doe and apple treeA white–tailed doe checks out the apple tree from a distance, and probably resolves to return at dusk.

does scarf apple from the groundA couple of does munch on apples which have fallen from the tree.

Get the Flash Player to see this player. Click on the image and watch the doe eat an apple—it certainly does slobber.

a buck robs the tree at nightThis white–tailed buck has been been caught in flagrante delicto.

Fraser tartan