It was our second full day in Jasper National Park and despite hours spent looking, I had yet to see a bear and was growing frustrated. The fact our sightseeing trip for the day was coming to an end heightened my anxiety but then things changed – big time.
We came across this gorgeous bear grazing in the Medicine Lake area and it obliged us with all the pictures we wanted. After leaving it to continue eating in peace we came across another about a mile away and then two miles later, another! Patience is a virtue and sometimes when looking for wildlife, I would do well to remember that. 😉
Ursus americanus is by far the most common bear in North America with a wide range and populations in most wooded and higher elevation areas of the continent. While not as big as some of their cousins, they can be 5 to 6 feet in length and weigh from 200 to 600 pounds. This one was not particularly large, probably in the low to medium parts of those ranges.
So much fun to happen across a pair of Black Bears on this particular morning (June 24) in Jasper National Park. They were walking through some pretty thick brush together when, in a relatively open spot, the one in the lead laid down and rolled on its back looking right at the other. I love being able to see its footprint!
I don’t know enough about bears to speak with any authority, but I do suspect it was a bit of foreplay because as they disappeared into the forest, one was clearly trying to jump on the other as it walked. 😉
Our trip to the Canadian Rockies allowed us to see quite a few of these cool creatures – a total of 10 across the three parks of Jasper, Banff and Glacier. By far though, the best opportunities and pictures came from Jasper.
One of my biggest goals with my excursion to the Canadian Rockies was to capture decent images of a Grizzly Bear – something that has eluded me over the years. The opportunities are rare and when I have had them, conditions were less than ideal and the images disappointing.
The fates finally took mercy on me and gave me a good opportunity on Saturday, June 25th in Banff National Park. While driving along the Trans-Canada Highway we spotted this massive guy walking along in an open area, seemingly oblivious to the traffic flying along nearby.
Coming to a fast stop I quickly pointed my camera and began clicking away. He gave me a number of good poses and while he was a good ways away necessitating heavy cropping of the images, the images are the best I have ever captured of this North American monster.
Unfortunately this was the only real chance I had at photographing one during the trip as we saw only one other and that one was too far off to get worthwhile pics.
An image for #TBT showing a Black Bear sow as she descends the rocky slopes of Waterton Canyon back in August. Her and her two cubs put on one heck of a show that day in an experience I will never forget.
Bears should be emerging from their winter dens now and no doubt will be very hungry after their long slumber. I’m pinning my hopes of seeing bears this year on a trip to the northern Rockies? in a couple of months. I just have to hope the bruins cooperate!
Going back to August for this series on a day in Waterton Canyon when I was observing a Black Bear sow and her two cubs. The trio had worked their way down to the South Platte River and while the female and one of the cubs crossed the river without a problem, one of the little ones was hesitant to cross.
Not realizing this, mom and the one cub continued on their journey further up the river. The scared one did finally cross the river but by the time it did, mom was nowhere in sight due to the thick growth along the river banks. Clearly scared, the cub began calling for its mom over and over.
The sow heard the cries and took off running, backtracking to find her offspring. They did eventually find each other and Mom led the lost one along, undoubtedly paying a bit more attention to where her little ones were at.
A somewhat heart-wrenching scene that unfolded in August but thankfully ended well. This sow and her two cubs were walking around a water diversion structure in Waterton Canyon, Colorado back in August.
Mom was able to easily scale the wall but it was far too tall for her cubs. One young one figured out a way around but the other struggled to figure it out.
For 15 minutes or so, it cried incessantly, pacing back and forth along the wall, trying unsuccessfully to scale it. Mom didn’t seem to understand why her little one couldn’t make it over.
Eventually the little one figured out where its sibling had gotten around and the family was reunited and headed off into the forest. It was tough to watch and listen to the cub as it was clearly stressed about the separation from its mother but also very pleasing to see them back together in the end.
Back in August I was observing this pretty lady and her two cubs as they walked along the South Platte River. The Black Bear sow suddenly took a swipe at the water and just like that, she had a quick meal which she tossed up onto the shore. A good day for the bears, not so much for the fish.
Black Bears normally eat grasses, roots, and berries but every now and then dine on fish and carrion. They of course also easily develop a taste for human food and trash thus leading to many human / bear conflicts when the bears choose the easy meal we provide due to our own poor care and stewardship.
As summer wound down, bear activity along Colorado’s Front Range picked up. The bears were having a difficult time finding the food they needed to fatten up for winter so they were venturing into areas they normally avoid.
Such was the case with this male cinnamon black bear toward the end of August. He was one of a number of bears and cubs that were frequenting Waterton Canyon, a popular recreation area with a trail into the foothills. Normally the bears would avoid humans but this year has been different and in fact, the week after I took these pictures the canyon was closed and remains closed today due to the danger.
This boar was hanging out near a sow and her two cubs when he decided to come down to the river for a drink and to cool off. While he looks close, he was a good ways away as I was across the river and up an embankment.
Spending time taking pictures of bears is an absolute thrill to say the least. Getting pictures of one of the cubs though has its share of, “Awww, how cute!” moments. Such was the case with this little one. It was following it’s mom as she worked her way down Waterton Canyon, Colorado and across the South Platte River.
This black bear sow was busy keeping close watch on her two little ones a few weeks back. She was absolutely beautiful as she watched us humans from above then worked her way down the hill to get to the South Platte River near Denver, Colorado, USA. I of course gave her and the cubs a wide berth. 😉