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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Me, the old fool

There's no fool like an old fool. That's me.

As far as protecting my cameras from bears, I did well this year. That is, until December when I let my guard down.

I thought the bears were sleeping by mid-November. I had consulted the literature and that's the schedule in Washington State. Here in northern California I assumed it would be a little later.

I hadn't seen any bear scat in the woods for a few weeks, and since we've had some freezing weather, I left the bear guards at home. I put 6 cameras out this month, and the camera set you see above seemed to hold most promise. At least the setting was more picturesque.

On December 17th or 20th a bear smelled the gopher I had hung behind the leaning fir next to the log. The camera must have flashed, and the bear went for the camera. This is when the spikes on the bear guard give the bear an attitude adjustment. But there was no bear guard.

The bear opened the case, pulled the camera out and at the same time tore out the internal wiring to the controller. The case was held to the tree with a double loop of bungie cord, so the lid snapped shut and protected the batteries and controller from the weather.

The bear carried the camera to the log and left it face down on the moss. There's a tooth mark in the LCD.

Then the rain came.

The only good thing about a bear-trashed camera is looking at the pictures and witnessing the crime being committed. But not one of the 40 pictures turned out. They were all black images.

I am still drying the camera near the woodburning stove, and spent yesterday morning putting bear guards on the other cameras.

This would never happen to the redhead. She doesn't take chances.

I'm afraid I fit the definition of an "old fool" to a T.


Jace Stansbury said...


Just wanted to wish you and the redhead a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!


Camera Trap Codger said...

Merry Xmas, Jace. Keep up your good natural history work. I look forward to the posts.

codger chris

Mario Castellanos said...

Happy Holidays from Washington DC!

Mario and K

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks Mario, and best wishes to you and K for a great New Year.

Liza Myers said...

What terrifc stories and photos! Love the colors! I am a painter and often use a black background, so the night camera drama works well.
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...


I feel your pain of lose. My first camera deployment of a video system housed in a Wildlife Eye was found three months later destroyed by a curious bear. The Sony camera was ruined from the rain and elements of setting out for two months, $1,000.00 down the drain. It was unable to be repaired after another $35.00 to find that out. I have since used Swivel Safes and I still have every camera. I will this year try and salvage the guts of the Wildlife Eye and built it into a large ammunition box to better protect it from the curious Georges of the south.
I love your blog and have used may of the scents you have mentioned with great success.
I just obtained my first bobcat images, now totally 100 shots of three different cats.

Happy holidays,

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks Liza, stay tuned, cuz there's more coming.

Cameratrapper: Gees, I thought I had a problem! Sorry that you've been a victim too. I'll check out Swivel Safes. The spiked bear guards I use work well, but the next ones will be made of aluminum. Glad to hear you got some bobcat pics. I'll be posting one in a couple days.