After another successful season in the wild, the Rhoads Grizzly is at a crossroads. While the past year has seen this majestic creature triumph over many of nature's hardships, the winter approaches. With the cold setting in, the Rhoads Grizzly must gather his group, replenish his pack and prepare for hibernation.
But all is not well this year. Particularly concerning for the Rhoads Grizzly is his tribe's thinning ranks. After traveling to Tennessee in search of a particularly large kill, one that would feed his pack throughout the long winter months, the Rhoads Grizzly was forced out of the area by a freak, season-defying hurricane. Leaving the Memphis woods empty-handed, the Rhoads Grizzly was instead required to forage for food on the trip back to his Iowa home. These meager scraps have not been enough to sustain the 80+ members of the pack, and there has been some disunity and splintering of the group dynamic.
Naturalists who have been tracking the Rhoads Grizzly for the past four years have documented the movements of the members of his pack. In the past week, six cubs left the group, either setting off on their own after traveling with Rhoads for several years or joining another pack before even entering the Rhoads Grizzly's tribe. The natural trend for younger bears is to head south for the winter, as we see with the castaways from this pack:
- Barnett Bruin - A natural leader, the Barnett Bruin chafes when younger, stronger cubs enter the pack. While this crafty hunter was responsible for some particularly large kills (including a cowboy and a raider last year), the Barnett Bruin never developed into the beta male the Rhoads Grizzly needed to help lead his tribe. So the Barnett Bruin must travel south to find a smaller pack, one more suited to his abilities.
- Morgan Cub - A victim of circumstance, the Morgan cub likely would have had a large role in the Rhoads Grizzly's plans next year. Unfortunately, the lure of home and their ancestral territories is sometimes too much for younger cubs to overcome. And so the Morgan cub will head to his breeding ground of Florida and find a new pack, leaving the Rhoads Grizzly's ranks thinner than ever next year.
- Paddington Estime - Much like the character in the children's book, Paddington Estime traveled a long way before deciding on, and ultimately leaving, the Rhoads Grizzly's pack. Quite a bit older than many cubs joining the Rhoads Grizzly's pack, Paddington Estime was born in Florida but has been found as far north as western Indiana. A wandering soul, Paddington Estime traveled too far from the group one too many times. When the Rhoads Grizzly had to track Paddington Estime down in Western Michigan, the older bear was compelled to force Estime out of his tribe.
- Smokey Barnes - Only you can prevent forest fires, and only Smokey Barnes can decide to stay in his natural territory of Houston rather than journey north to join the Rhoads Grizzly's pack.
- Polar Suttles - Much like his arctic cousin, the powerful, stocky Polar Suttles prefers the frozen tundra of Nebraska over the rather more hospitable climes of central Iowa. Unfortunately, once settled in Lincoln the Polar Suttles will be forced to deal with the Pelini Baboon and his furious, feces-flinging ways.
- California Golden Vincent - The most recent departure from the pack, the California Golden Vincent is characterized by a mercurial temperament. This unpredictable nature makes it hard for the Rhoads Grizzly to understand what the younger cub will do, like leave his new pack when a higher-profile group of bears passes by his native habitat.
Additionally, it appears that another beta male, nicknamed Wellsie-the-Pooh, left Iowa State in the past few weeks to travel to reunite with family members in Utah.
No one knows what drives bears like Wellsie to travel hundreds of miles to reconnect with family, but researchers familiar with ursine behavior believe that the Rhoads Grizzly may have been unsatisfied with Wellsie's contributions to the pack and forced him out of the group.
With only three weeks until the Rhoads Grizzly will need to hibernate for the winter, the older bear will need to do some quick hunting to replenish his pack before next year. The Rhoads Grizzly's tribe currently includes 61 cubs, with 22 set to join the group next fall. This leaves at least two spots in the pack open, with more defections possibly coming in the next few weeks. As always, nature is a ferocious and unforgiving place for the Rhoads Grizzly, but the noble creature soldiers on stoically.