Grizzly Bear Alert
There is nothing that sparks the interest of visitors (and wanna-be visitors) to Western Canada than the topic of wildlife – but most especially – BEARS!
Many people are lucky enough to spot a Black bear, especially if they are traveling through the mountains in the spring, but it isn’t often that you manage to catch sight of a grizzly in its natural habitat. And that is exactly what happened to me recently. I was so excited that I talked about it for days. Of course I was safe in a car. (It would have been most foolish to get out of the car. Not only did this Mama Grizzly have cubs to protect, but Grizzlies can be aggressive and fast. Check out this short video clip.
Two of the Grizzly’s most distinctive features is its 2-4 inch claws on its front paws and the hump on its shoulders. When you stop at the tourist information office in Radium, you will get to see a display of the animals that you might encounter in the Rocky Mountains. You will recognize the Grizzly Bear to the left and in the picture to the right is a mountain goat and a bighorn sheep.
Wildlife Crossings and Bear Bins in Banff National Park
In 2012, eleven species of large mammals have been recorded using wildlife crossings more than 150,000 times since 1996. This includes grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and more recently wolverine and lynx.
Grizzly Bear Refuge in Golden, B.C.
Black Bear Alert – What To Do In Case of Emergency
As I said previously, it is more common to see Black bears. They are smaller than the grizzly and have become accustomed to humans and therefore tourists often do not take them as a serious threat. But they can still be dangerous. Just try getting between a mama and her cub and you will see what I mean. However, if you leave them alone, they try to leave you alone too.
No Surprises Please
So, as further proof, I am showing you a picture of a poster on a storefront advertising that bear spray is sold inside. I am actually showing two pictures because the one has too much sun glare, but it is scarier so I wanted to show it anyway. The second one is silly because it just looks like the bear is waving at you – albeit with 2-4 inch claws.
Black bears in Alberta spend 5 to 6 months in winter dens and lose 10 to 30 percent or more of their body weight. They do not eat, drink, defecate or urinate during the entire denning period and the intestinal tract becomes blocked with a fecal plug until the bear emerges in spring. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife)
A Little Closer to Home
People often ask us if we have seen bears on our property. We usually say “no.”
Today, however, I can say positively “YES – we do encounter bears on our property.” And I now have the pictures to prove it.
You will see that this Black bear was checking out our garbage and recycling which is just outside the kitchen door. The garbage was in a bear proof container and there was no food in the recycling. So there was nothing to keep the bears attention. Nonetheless, we will be storing these things in the garage in the future.
It was an interesting experience because even though Ed and I were safe in the house (pictures taken through the windows) we were definitely slightly intimidated, even though this was obviously a young bear – and very curious.
Also, it isn’t as easy to get rid of a bear as one might think. Even when we made loud noises, it took its time to turn around and leave. Well, actually, it just went to the back of the house. So we went outside to the back (staying close to the door) and yelled and waved coats and banged on pots. The bear finally decided that this was too much noise and it left.
A Visit From a Grizzly Bear
Just a couple of days after the visit from the Black bear, a Grizzly bear decides to check us out. Although much more intimidating because of its size and reputation, this one left quickly when we made noise. Whew!
(Zoom in on the claws)
Then, a Visit From Another Black Bear
And as if that wasn’t enough excitement, we had another visit from another Black bear. I saw him as I looked out of a west window. He was the largest yet. What a beauty!
Well, that is enough about bears for now – at least my own experience of them. I will leave you with a little humor, in case you didn’t appreciate mine. I found this sign near Fort Steele, B.C.
This is Canadian humor, at its best, folks.
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