Grazing happily on the greened-up lawn at a local cabin resort last week, a five-year old grizzly bear was blissfully unaware—or at least unfazed—by the presence of interested onlookers, including photographer Simone Heinrich, who had her telephoto lens trained on the young adult bruin.
Heinrich was familiar with this particular bear. For the past four summers, Heinrich has watched he and his siblings grow from fuzzy fur balls to sassy sub-adults to strapping, sexually-mature adults. This bear was one of three triplets who came on the Jasper scene in 2018. The “three amigos,” as they’ve been dubbed by local wildlife officials, are three of about a dozen grizzlies that have been reported in Jasper National Park’s high-use areas over the past few summers.
At last count, there were 135 grizzly bears in Jasper National Park. So perhaps this amigo, who, along with his siblings weened from its mother two years ago, shouldn’t have been shocked when another grizzly—a big, brawny boar—entered from stage left.
“From my car, I watched the amigo eating for about 10 minutes when I saw a big boar approaching from the back end of the lawn,” Heinrich said. “The smaller grizzly was still feasting.”
Suddenly, the younger bear picked up the scent of the bigger, badder rival.
“When he looked up and saw the big boar, he couldn’t run off fast enough,” Heinrich said. “He sped toward my car and the road, turned into the bushes and vanished!”
Not, however, before leaving a trail of processed grass and berries behind.
“The poor guy literally had the crap scared out of him,” Heinrich said.
Competition is fierce in the wildlife kingdom. And as Heinrich learned, grizzlies can move fast. Parks Canada reminds visitors and residents to give bears plenty of space, never feed wildlife, be aware of your surroundings, slow down while driving and reduce your risk of a surprise encounter by hiking with bear spray and making noise as you travel.
Bob Covey // email@example.com