The Wood Folk Diaries: Volume 1, Chapter 2: Makwa The Black Bear

Due to the high volume of images, videos, and information, our wild friend Makwa (that’s Anishinaabemowin for “bear”) and his adventures will be covered over multiple chapters. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Dear Wood Folk,

It was a summer evening in 2018, July the 22nd at around 10 PM to be more precise. While plunking away at the keyboard, my eyes caught movement over the screen, outside, to the compost bins at the edge of the forest. The bins, while environmentally friendly, tend to attract wild visitors. Most commonly the red fox and the raven. But this was neither. This was a teeny black bundle of fluff and his head was hanging in what looked like sadness or dejection.

Sniffing around the next day and still no mother

At first, I believed this was a bear cub, and I looked for a mother that was nowhere to be found. Panicking for the helpless orphaned creature, I contacted Mike McIntosh from Bear With Us Sanctuary about 2 hrs away in Sprucedale, ON. I expected we’d have to trap the little bear and send him to the sanctuary until he was old enough to survive on his own. Mike asked if the bear was larger than a housecat. The answer was yes. And to my surprise, the expert informed me this was a small black bear yearling. And his bear mama had just recently chased him off. (This is the reality for bear mamas and their cubs at about 16, 17, 18 months of age, see this article at one of Mike’s sites.)

Makwa the black bear est. 18 months of age

Our apple season was just beginning, and with such edibles and a little bear sized pond to drink from, and plenty of tree cover to climb into, the little cub became a frequent guest for the remainder of the summer.

His path went from our acre, up a ridge, and deeper into the secluded forest. It wasn’t a large area, just a bit of real estate in his mother’s home turf. Full of nuts and berries and other black bear approved foods. Black bears stay within noseshot of their mothers post family breakup. But their mothers give them space. They move farther away from home eventually, we would learn. The bitter parts of life don’t escape any of us.

Tiny bear prints next to my tiny (thunderbird/grouse) moccasins
Bear bum and feet – the best thing you’ll see today?

These upcoming Makwa chapters will show bear doing bear. You’ll see the expected like Makwa eating apples, berries, and herbs. But you’ll also see the less usual. For instance, bear meeting a fox, helping me garden (sort of), and even being treed by a cocky cat. Just your average summer of adventure as a boy bear tries to find his place in the wild world. I hope to have you along! Subscribe or follow us on social media so you won’t miss the bear sightings! See you next Wood Folk Diary.

Makwa’s first YouTube appearance premieres 25 Feb 2020:

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