Friday, July 4, 2014

Two Grizzlies, One Beach


Where are the bear cubs hiding this year? We haven’t seen one yet in any of the usual spots, neither black bear nor grizzly bear cubs. Bear sightings in general were scarce during our trip north, but that could mean we weren’t alert enough, or in the right place at the right time. Ah, location, location… etc. Finally we've anchored in a bay with at least three grizzlies that wander the shoreline almost daily to graze on the lush grasses. 


The same grassy meadows are frequented by five black-tailed deer, but never when the bear are dining. Deer are herd animals, often appearing in a group, but the several wandering grizzlies are definite loners. Each bear cautiously sniffs the air, looks over his/her shoulder frequently and displays an overall alertness while feeding. Interesting that they don’t seem to mind passing skiffs, though they are obviously aware of human presence.  


One afternoon two grizzlies appeared on the same side of the bay, grazing in adjacent coves, separated by a rocky promontory, and each out of sight of the other bear. Neither bear was aware of the other’s presence for the longest time, and then things changed. The larger bear, one we call The Boss, raised his nose and hurried uphill to shelter under overhanging tree branches, all the while sniffing and turning his head side to side.


The other bear, called Buffalo Bear because of his distinctive shape, looked nervous, but not nervous enough to quit feeding. Perhaps alerted by some noise, this bear slowly moved farther along the shore, repeatedly looking over his shoulder after each mouthful of grass.


Then The Boss rounded the point, increasing speed and racing up the rocks as he spotted the other bear. Buffalo Bear sprinted for cover, crashing through low brush and heading into the dense forest beyond. Both grizzlies disappeared from sight, but considerable growling and roaring came from the woods. And then all was quiet. No more bear, no more noise, and no idea how it all ended. We haven’t seen either bear in the two days since that encounter.


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