Writing a story about berry picking last week brought to mind a solo hike I took a number of summers ago to check out the blueberry-huckleberry crop along the western edge of Dolly Sods.
While walking along an unmarked, unofficial trail leading to a large sandstone outcrop, I couldn't help but notice that someone, for some unknown reason, had been digging out and rolling over many of the medium-sized boulders that were part of the trail tread.
"What's the point?" I asked myself, as I walked past two dozen or so newly overturned rocks, wondering if someone was attempting to obliterate the trail for some mysterious reason.
Then, after hiking over a small rise, I had my answer. About 100 yards ahead, a black bear could be seen rocking a boulder out of the trail bed, rolling it upside down, and licking ants and their larvae off its damp, grimy surface. I read later that ants' larvae and pupae may be small but are about 90 percent protein, making them an exceptionally nutritious snack for hungry omnivores.
The black bear's wide range of snack food choices is brought into focus again in a series of photos that appear elsewhere in this issue of the Sunday Gazette-Mail, showing an opportunistic black bear cleaning out a bird feeder in a Delbarton homeowner's yard.
Footage of a Colorado black bear with even more imaginative culinary ambitions, not to mention superior motor skills, was making the rounds on Facebook on Friday.
A security camera installed at the rear of a German restaurant in Colorado Springs captured images of the bear standing on its hind legs and appreciatively sniffing the lid of a large wheeled trash bin before rolling it down an alley, out of sight and into the night.
As it turned out, the dumpster-driving bear rolled the steel bin into a parking lot, where it was overturned, providing access to the leftover schnitzel and sausages inside.
"He must like our food -- he does take-out," the restaurant owner told a local television news reporter. In fact, the bruin rolled out the trash barrel twice last week for a nocturnal parking lot feast.
But a bear with an appetite for German food could become a force to be reckoned with.
Next thing you know, it could be invading convenience stores for Poland Springs water, and conquering the dumpsters of Colorado Springs' French restaurants.
As for the culinary tastes of America's black bears, today it's German.Tomorrow, it could be the world.