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Even Grizzlies have a Bad Day

Even Grizzlies have a Bad Day
Photo Information
Copyright: Rick Price (Adanac) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-05-10
Camera: Canon 5D MKII, Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS
Exposure: f/10.0, 1/1000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): CeltickRanger's favorite Bear photos [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-05-20 19:40
Viewed: 3783
Points: 22
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hi All,
Well I'm back from Yellowstone and will be around for about a week then we are headed out once more. This image was taken near Grizzly Lake fittingly enough. We saw this bear for about 3 days in the same area, on the last day he was walking on his right front elbow, you can see the reason why in his right paw. Yes folks he swatted a porcupine and suffered the consequences of his actions. He was moving around and eating but what the future holds for him I'm not sure. He will diffinately be very sore for a while at least. I wish him well.

Grizzly Bear
Ursus arctos

General Description

By Gustave J. Yaki

The Grizzly Bear is one of two bear species in Alberta, which are, at times, difficult to tell apart. The main characteristics, besides usually being larger, is the prominent shoulder hump and the concave-dished face. Generally its snout is longer. However, sometimes even when closely observed, positive identification can only be determined by the difference in their dentition.

As is also the case with the so-called Black Bear, the long pelage varies immensely in colour -- from nearly black through shades of brown to honey-blonde. Adult bears on the tundra, which the Inuit call Aklak, may have creamy-yellow backs and reddish legs and undersides and are only about two-thirds the size of their southern cousins. Most adults have some frosted, silver-tipped guard hairs in the shoulder area, occasionally also on the face, giving it a grizzled look, hence one explanation for its popular name.

The type specimen, collected by Lewis and Clark in 1805 on their expedition to the Pacific via the Missouri River, reportedly measured 2.6 m (8 ft, 7 in) in length and stood 1.3 m (53 in) high at the shoulder. A medium-sized male, presumably average, killed in Jasper National Park, measured 1.86 m (6 ft) long, with a short tail of 7.5 cm (3 in). Adults weigh from 136 to 526 kg (300 to 1,157 lb). The latter was the maximum weight for a captive bear. One bear in a zoo lived for 29 years.

Also occurring in Eurasia where is known as the Brown Bear, up to 87 forms have been, at times, recognized in North America. All, such as the Kodiak are, in all likelihood, just individual geographic variations of the Grizzly Bear. Because of its extirpation over much of its range, if in fact, there was more than one species involved, that information has probably been lost forever.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, Grizzlies occupied almost all of the western half of North America. They have now been extirpated from most of their former range in the Great Plains region; only isolated pockets remain in the USA, such as in Yellowstone National Park. Because inbreeding, results in a loss of genetic variation, that population is ultimately doomed. Their survival depends on establishing corridors, linking them to other populations -- the driving force behind the Y2Y (Yellowstone to Yukon) Initiative.

Although they have always lived in the treeless tundra of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, in recent years more and more grizzlies have shown up on the Arctic sea ice, traditional areas of the Polar Bear. A Grizzly Bear was found on Melville Sound, some 1,000 km (600 mi) north of the mainland in 1991. They have now also been sighted on Banks and Victoria Islands and in the middle of Hudson Bay, and in 2003 on uninhabited Melville Island, north of Banks Island.

In lower mainland Canada, they formerly ranged across the southern half of Manitoba and most of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Today, all those are gone -- except for a diminishing few in the Rocky Mountains and Alberta's Swan Hills area.

The major reason for present population declines are collisions with rail and motor vehicles, poaching -- and the inappropriate but legalized hunt. The incentive for hunting is mainly trophy -- little or no use is made of the meat or hide.

In spite of their endangered species status, the current Alberta government is apparently prepared to allow this species to go extinct, having failed to implement any of the recovery plans produced by the scientists studying the issue since 1999!

In future, Alberta citizens and tourists may have to go afield, to Alaska, to see this magnificent creature.

Prairie Grizzly numbers rapidly declined with the loss of the American Bison in the 1870s. It is reported that 750 hides were traded one winter in the Cypress Hills about that time.

Grizzlies still occur throughout much of B.C. but are thought to be declining there too. They prefer open areas but observing them in that province?s forested, mountainous terrain is much more difficult. A sparse population exists in the western Canadian tundra.

Adult Grizzly Bears are solitary, except for the brief mating season, or when they congregate at favourite feeding areas such as along salmon streams. There, they keep out of each other?s way, the smaller ones deferring to those that are larger. Grizzlies often mark their territories by clawing trees, reaching as high as they can. Because of their long foreclaws, up to 5 cm (2 in), they are not able to climb trees.

Over most of their range, they normally flee from humans, but where unmolested, they passively accept intruders, such as at various tourist lodges along salmon streams in Alaska. Most conflicts with people occur when they come between a mother and her cubs, or accidentally encounter a bear at its kill.

In late autumn, after feeding heavily and putting on a thick layer of fat, bears seek a winter shelter. This may be in a hollow tree, or under a windfall, usually high up on a mountain, almost always on a north or northeast facing slope. If none of the above are available, they dig a den under a root, a projecting rock or into a steep slope. Unless vegetation is readily available, the den is usually bare. They enter it in late October in early November, during a heavy snowstorm, which hides their tracks, to sleep the winter away. During that time they may lose up to a third of their body weight. They do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate for almost six months, nor do they lose bone density. Bears do not hibernate. They emerge in April. At that time the entrance may be deeply buried beneath a snow drift requiring them to tunnel their way out.

Grizzly Bears are omnivorous. Much of their food, which they find at lower elevations, particularly upon first emerging, is vegetation, mainly sedges (Carex and Scirpus spp.) and horsetails (Equisetum spp). At such times, their grazing behaviour suggest that of a domestic cow. They also dig up the edible roots of such plants as Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum), Skunk Cabbage (Lysichitum americanum), Licorice-root (Hedysarum alpinum) and Spring-beauty (Claytonia lanceolata). Finding the carcass of a winter-killed mammal is a bonanza. In summer, wild fruits attract their attention. At any time, they dine on insects, particularly grubs found in rotting logs, and fungi and small rodents. They often dig up ground squirrels and marmots, reaching deep into their burrows with their powerful arms, pulling up the surface covering, at times making the area look much like a plowed field. Often a wolf will be in attendance, in the hope of catching any individual rodent that exits through the back door. In the mountains, they sometimes hunt mountain sheep, goats, elk and moose and even Black Bears, which they can easily outrun. If successful, after consuming their fill, they cache the rest in a snowbank or drag it into shaded woods, covering it with vegetation, then bed down nearby. Along salmon streams, in late summer and autumn, they eagerly catch spawning or spent fish. Some of these are carried into the forest, where most is eaten. The remains, and the bears? scats are important sources of nitrogen, essential nutrients for the forest trees.

Mating occurs in late June to early July, usually every other year, unless the sow has lost her litter earlier in the season. Because of delayed implantation, the gestation period is between 229 to 266 days. The one to four cubs (average two) are born while the mother is in dormancy, from mid-January to March. At that time, the young are covered in a fine, dark fur. They weigh 340 to 680 g (14 to 27 oz) but grow quickly, weighing 15 kg (33 lb) at three months and 25 lb (55 lb) at six months. They stay close to their mother all that first summer, who protects them from adult males which would readily kill them. The young are very playful, engaging in frequent wrestling matches. They are weaned at four to five months, remaining with their mother during their second winter but disperse before her next mating period. The surviving cubs may den together in their third winter. They become sexually mature at six or seven years.
from Weaselhead.org

ramthakur, Juyona, zetu, Alex99, jaycee, tuslaw, eqshannon, SunToucher, CeltickRanger, oanaotilia has marked this note useful
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I envy you your trip, have been trying to find the time to make it up that way myself, would love the opportunity to shoot some bears in the wild. Well taken, good detail and a nice natural setting.


The Grizzly, otherwise known to be ferocious and aggressive, looks so helpless and defeated in this picture, Rick.
That a porcupine's defence system has disabled this hulk of an animal speaks a lot about nature's ways.
The picture is well taken under the circumstances. The eyes show the misery of the bear.
Wish you all the best on your impending trip.

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2009-05-20 23:32]

Hola amigo,
interesante historia,
magnífica captura y detalles,
formidable animal y excelente trabajo.

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2009-05-21 0:52]

Hello Rick
Nice capture, I like details and natural colors.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2009-05-21 9:36]

Hi Rick.
Touching note. I also hope all be OK with bear. Even in his eye we can see a pain. Nice picture. Superb wide DOF and details of the entire scene. I hope you will get great pleasure with your new camera (as well as we do from your new shots). TFS and all the best.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-05-21 16:44]

Hi Rick,

Sounds like your trip was a real winner! This poor bear! He looks so sad lying there. I do hope he will be okay. Wonder what shape the porcupine is in. The face and fur are wonderful - I love the fur standing up on his back. Another great natural nature shot from you.


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2752 W: 280 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-05-21 20:09]

Outstanding image Rick,
Poor guy really looks miserable though!! Excellent detail with gorgeous natural colors!! Great work!! Very informative and detailed notes! Sounds like you had a great time. TFS.
I've had a little experience with Porcupines in the past. I was riding with a friend at night in PA. when one decided to dash out in front of the car. We swerved to miss it, but clipped a little of it's rear end in the process. The quills only ended up in our front tire thankfully.

If I have this one in my "Rick Archive" I will go look...I have forgotten. There is an ironic or perhaps convoluted twist tho the words and porky-pine story. I have been told that in order for a hunter to take one of these down...they need a very high powered rifle and a very good aim...and because of quick clotting features..even a normal kill shot would still have life in it for a bit....frankly these are the ones which scare me the most. There is a TV ad going on down here in the US..no wait..TUMS...and it shows a grizzly or perhaps brown bear shaking a small car while standing on its hind feet. Scary..I have seen the pictures one sees at the entrance to Yosemite..and also the many warnings....Even friends I know who cared for the east gate and house at Denali all winter long when it was closed...carried 44 magnum pistols...they were children and raised there by their other alone...tourists are NOT encouraged to get out of the tour buses in summer...and all of this is brought to mind as you casually show a wonderful picture....gee Rick...if there ever was a pro here on TN or a most celebrated photographer from my website..it most certainly is you and you make it look as easy as spreading warm butter on toast..

Hi Rick,
I will be looking forward from one of my favorite places...Yellowstone. I do hope you had a great time and came back with impressive photos. The luck of seeing him three times was surely on your side. I hope you thanked the porcupine for giving you this opportunity. I do hope the bear will recover and have a story to tell to his grand children.
The photo is a beauty with wonderful eye contact and great details.
TFS and lots of fun on your next trip.

hello Rick

an excellent photo of the Grizzly Bear with fine POV and framing,
excellent sharpness and details, wonderful eye-contact with you,
i am sad what it happen for him but like you know Rick
these are things of the life of wild animals in the nature,



Hy Rick
When I was walking in the mountains I always was affraid to meet a bear, and it seems that you...found and captured one! Hm, and also the more dangerous grizzly, not the more calm european bear. Nice pose, even if it was suffering, but who put him to cease a porcupine?
All the best, Oana

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