Winter Bear Tale

Why? Why? Why?  The favorite word of toddlers. Today we answer one of those why questions prompted by pictures of animals.

Why do bears have short tails?

Long ago, before humans moved into the Great North Woods, bears had long, slender tails covered in fur. Come with me on a winter’s day when Mr. Bear is hankering after one more good meal before hibernation.

Mr. Bear is walking in the woods, looking for a fresh, filling treat when he meets Mr. Fox. Now Mr. Fox is carrying several nice big fish.

“I say, Mr. Fox. Where did you get such nice fish?”

“In the lake, Mr. Bear. I’ve been ice fishing.”

“Ice fishing? Tell me how it’s done.”

Mr. Fox gave one of his smiles and started how to describe the procedure. “You dig a hole in the ice. Not too large. Then you dangle your tail in the water. You must sit very still waiting for the fish to come by and nibble on your tail. When the fish has a good hold — you stand up real quick and flip the fish out of the water.”

“And this works?” Mr. Bear suspected Mr Fox left something out of the directions.

“The proof is right here.” Mr. Fox held up the fish he carried.

“I’ll try it.” Mr. Bear rubbed his empty stomach. “Today.”

A little later, Mr. Bear dug a hole in the ice, sat down, and let his long, slender tail dip into the water. He sat very still, for he was a patient bear. He watched geese fly high above and the sun move across three treetops before he felt a fish nibble at his tail. He waited for the fish to gain a firm hold.

Up he jumped. Owwww! He turned around to discover the hole he’d so carefully dug was frozen over and held tight to his long, slender tail.

To this day bears have short tails. (And they don’t follow fishing tips from foxes.)