Readers’ photos: Grizzly and elk

Reader Evan Effa, from British Columbia, just had an encounter of the bear kind, and sent this account and these photos:

My wife & I have been camping at Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies.  We were given a nice spot on the edge of an area that had been closed to campers as the elk were calving in the relative safety of the campground area.


Yesterday [June 1] morning we were drinking our coffee & watching the many elk from our back window.

Quite suddenly, another visitor was right there on our doorstep.  He didn’t hang around for long but was kind enough to smile for my camera. He (she?) was quick to move off when a number of the other campers came out to pursue him with their point-and-shoots.

Apparently the grizzlies like to take out the odd calf if they can get one.  This one left without much success.

The elk herd became quite restless & agitated with the grizzly there & seemed to have a few of their number actively following the bear to keep an eye on it. They prudently kept their distance which is more than I can say for a few of the other campers. About 20 minutes later, the rangers were out encouraging the bear to move on with a few bear bangers etc.  This appeared to be quite a young grizzly & it would be a shame if he got too habituated to human contact.”

(BTW The grizzly shot was taken at a respectable distance from our trailer door with a 100-400 mm lens @  330 mm on a Canon 1DsIII.)

12 Comments

  1. BilBy
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Interesting you should note the unsafe behaviour of tourists. My experiences living in and visiting various parts of southern Africa indicated that people often talked about being wary around dangerous animals and then would often go right up to lions, hyaenas etc that wandered into camp grounds. In South Africa I was horrified to see a man encourage his toddler to walk up to a group of baboons scrounging in a camp ground so he could get a photo of them all together. The male turned round, barked, and the toddler sat down on his rump bawling. All the female baboons were baring their teeth and had their back hair standing up and some moved forward: fortunately my companion (an ex ranger) just calmly walked over, picked the toddler up and returned him to dad and gave him a polite talking to. What people think is dangerous and how they behave around that are often two very different things.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of an incident in the Cape Canaveral area some time ago. The incident occurred at an area where people can come face to face with alligators, separated only by a chain link fence about 1 meter high. A fine example of the human species reached over the fence with her wee toddler child and placed him on the back of an alligator so that she could get some great pictures. As luck would have it, some interfering busybody nearby saw this happening and immediately snatched the child back up, even as mom released him and began to fumble with her camera.

      The poor alligator, however, was somewhat disappointed as the twist and snatch reaction, triggered by the child being placed on its back, came up empty.

      If I remember correctly the women was charged with something by the authorities.

      I just don’t understand how people can be THAT clueless.

  2. Griff
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    When I saw the title, I was expecting a picture of an Elk calf that had been adopted by a Grizzly. I was all prepared to go “awwww”.

    Imagine my disappointment!

  3. Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    At first I thought this was actually a black bear (U. americanus) because I don’t see much shoulder hump and the black bears in the interior west are generally cinnamon colored like this bear. But the face does look dished and “grizzled.” Ears seem intermediate in length between the two species, but closer to grizzly.

    Any expert mammalogists out there? Any chance this bear might be a hybrid?

    • eheffa
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Hi.

      When my wife first spied the bear she exclaimed, ‘Look, is that a bear!?’ I looked up to see just the body with the face hidden by trees. The hump was quite evident & it was quite obviously a Grizzly.

      I think I have a few other shots that show the hump more clearly if you wish me to post them.

      - evan

      • Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Not necessary. Thanks for the followup.

      • Scott near Berkeley
        Posted June 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        My photo collection is the very definition of ‘disarray’. While going through stacks and stacks of photos, an acquaintance said, “Wow!” and showed me a photo I took of a grizzly bear in Denali National Park (Alaska). Very close up! And another, and another. The acquaintance said, “How’d you get that (dumb, stupid) fearless, to take these close-ups of a Grizzly??!! (28mm wide angle lens).

        I am very wary of bears. Very wary. I simply could not figure out how I did it!

        Then, I recalled….I was riding in a school bus, with the window down about four inches, and the grizzly was about six or seven feet away from the bus. No wonder I was so calm.

  4. Arnie
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Grizzlies scare this shit out of me, probably the most ferocious, clever and powerful land animals.

  5. darrelle
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Great pics, especially of the bear! Sounds like a wonderful trip. Love big mountains (as compared to what we have on the eastern side of the continent).

  6. MadScientist
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    The Grizzly has a very strong sexual dimorphism, with the mature male being close to twice the weight of the female. Guessing as best as I can from the photo, that would either be a fairly large female or a more typical male. At least it’s warm weather and there’s plenty food; the beasts are far more aggressive when the food supply is low. Never run from a bear – they’re much faster and even a massive beast like this can sure climb trees quickly. Running also gets their attention – you have a much better chance just walking away at a leisurely pace.

    • eheffa
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      A few moments after this was shot, the bear started to move towards a rental motorhome parked in the next campsite. The occupants of the MH opened their door suddenly & in what seemed like an instant, this bear was standing a good hundred feet away looking back. I was amazed at how quickly and silently it moved & was impressed that no human could possibly match its speed and agility.

      It was then pursued into the bush by a number of campers anxious to get its picture. Before the campers returned though, it actually doubled back to reappear a few minutes later in almost the same spot it had disappeared. He seemed pretty skilled in eluding his followers. I was impressed at his abilities.

      The look in his eye was enough to dissuade me from wanting to meet him face to face myself.

      -evan

  7. Marella
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    How cool, I was in Jasper a few weeks ago but while we saw a few black bears I didn’t see any Grizzlies.


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