March 15, 2011

Grizzly Bear Series – Part 6, Momma and Cubs

We’re now at the end of my grizzly bear series! So I saved something special for the finale. We were fortunate enough to see momma bears and cubs – not once, but twice!

The first encounter was a joyous surprise. As soon as we arrived at the bear overlook station on our initial visit, a momma and two cubs ventured out of the forest nearby. The overlook area was a bit crowded, so I had to scramble for a halfway decent position to take pictures. Wicked backlighting was working against all the photographers. It was quite a sight to see, even though they didn’t linger very long! Momma bear wanted to get her babies across the river and was anxious about other bears in the area.

It is very grainy, but here is a digital close-up of her concerned face!

As soon as she determined that the coast was clear, she bolted and swam across, with the wee ones right behind.

They quickly got on the trail across the river, and she took one last glance at the riverside to make sure that they weren’t being followed. (Look for the two little ones on the trail to her right.) Then they disappeared into the forest. It all happened in mere minutes! It was magical.

The next time we saw a momma bear and cubs was a very distressing encounter. We had an incident on the grounds of our lodge where a male bear killed a cub. The whole story unfolded over the course of about five to six hours. The momma bravely fought and was able to save one of her two babies. After chasing the male away initially, she calmed herself and her cub by nursing, a rare and precious sight that we got to witness from a considerable distance. At a later point, the male came back and took chase after the surviving cub, with the angry momma in hot pursuit after the male. They ran toward the river and we lost sight of them in the distance. We were quite worried at that point about the outcome!

We learned about a half hour later that part of the story had a happy ending, when the momma and cub came back to the lodge grounds. We all cheered when we realized they were safe! I took the picture below after all of the drama had completely unfolded and in between their nibbles on vegetation. As you can see, she was still watchful for any potential harm to her remaining cub!

And this picture shows why it was wise for folks to look outside their individual cabins before venturing out! We were staying in the cabin shown in the front!

I hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed all of the images I’ve shared with you from our British Columbia trip last year! If you want to see them all together, you are welcomed to play the slideshow of British Columbia and grizzly bear photos in my Flickr account. This tour with Natural Habitat Adventures was truly spectacular, very unique, and one that we will forever cherish!


  1. OMG I can't believe it worked. I've been playing with my formatting and viola!

  2. What a wonderful experience. Well, except for the cub getting killed. Thanks you for sharing this with us.

  3. Gorgeous pictures. That must have been something to witness with the male bear. That poor little cub.

  4. What an experience! I had no idea that bear fathers could be as whacked as human ones. Thank you for sharing this journey. I have gone to your Flickr account and I think that's a spectacular way to see your entire adventure. Arizona next? Watch out of those rattlers. ☺

  5. Wonderful photos of your exciting adventure!

  6. Ah, that was very interesting, and quite traumatic. And gosh the bears outside the cabins are a bit close for comfort.
    Good to catch up Donna. Sorry to hear you weren't well. Hope you are fine now. Love the bird at the bird feeder below. Great capture.
    I am enjoying capturing the grand son. It is fun to be back in NYC. Will be pleased when the jet-lag runs it's course!

  7. These pictures are so amazing. Thanks for sharing. I've got to get to work on planning a trip there! Looks like a photographers dream.

  8. what a great article and photos...reminded me too of when in Gattlinburg of the bears coming to see us at the cabin and how we had to do some scouting before venturing outside the cabin...they sure can come up awfully quiet like! thanks Donna..this really great reading!

  9. Makes me want to CRY!! Dadgum Males!
    Your photos are Gorgeous Donna...How magical!
    Can't wait to see the ones from your Next trip!!!

  10. I have TOTALLY enjoyed your bear pictures. I'm a bit sad about the little cub though. Stupid male bears and their egos.
    Have a super day my friend.

  11. Great pictures, Donna! It's so sad that male bears will kill cubs. Nature at it's rawist. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful pictures!

  12. These are really nice photos. Bears always look SO cuddly, but we all know better, right? :-)


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