Kayaking With a Black Bear… Seriously!


Before this past week I hadn’t seen a single Black Bear in 2016. Then at Trough Creek State Park I came across one who was thoroughly investigating a picnic area and could not care less that I was 30 feet away watching him. So, on Saturday 8.20.16 I went kayaking at Shohola Marsh Reservoir in Pike County, Pennsylvania with a friend of mine. This was the 3rd time we had kayaked here and both times before we had seen more Bald Eagles than you could shake a stick at.

What's that swimming in the distance???
What’s that swimming in the distance???

We arrived about 8 a.m. and promptly hit the water, heading straight to the back side of the lake… that’s where we have the most Eagle sightings. After paddling for a few minutes my friend points out something swimming across the lake a few hundred yards ahead of us and asked “What is that?” It was big and black and looked like a bear’s head, but I didn’t say anything because… you know, how often to you see a Black Bear swimming across a lake? Especially a few hundred yards from shore? We watched it for a few seconds and he said “I think it’s a bear! I saw it’s snout!” I had to concur, it was most definitely a Black Bear swimming across the lake in front of our kayaks!

Why, it's a swimming Black Bear of course!
Why, it’s a swimming Black Bear of course!

He was cruising right along, keeping an eye on us. Nothing to worry about there, we gave him plenty of room…. first time I’ve ever given right of way in a kayak to a swimming bear. When he reached the other side of the lake, he turned, gave us a look and then took off into the woods. It was one of the most unique moments I’ve had kayaking.

After some quick calculations using Google Maps, he swam between 360 – 600 yards! We didn’t see him enter the water so I looked at the shortest and longest points from the general area he came from.

Part of his crossing is in the video, the rest is kayaking the reservoir and a little paddling at Prompton State Park.

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