"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Monday, November 9, 2015

A Little Family History, Grizzly Bear Family That Is

Our trip to Grand Teton National Park this year was notable for us because we were able to see four generations of grizzly bears, some of which we had past experience with.  The matriarch of this grizzly line is the famous bear #399.  The photo below was taken in 2008, the year that #399 kicked her two and a half year old cubs out...

 
In 2008 I found #399 near Oxbow Bend with a coyote nipping at her flanks...
 
 
A park ranger on the scene explained that the coyote probably had a den nearby and did not want #399 finding her young.  I don't know if the diversionary tactic worked or not, but I didn't see the bear eating coyote pups...
 
 
The two cubs that #399 kicked out were eventually captured and tagged and were henceforth known at #610 and #615.  This pair of cubs were often seen feeding near the road in the same area where they grew up...
 
 
Having two adolescent grizzly bears within view of the road caused quite a few bear jams during the summer of '08.  Usually these jams occurred in the general area of willow flats...
 
 
 
2008 was the year that I really felt GTNP had as much to offer, in the way of wildlife, as the much larger Yellowstone.  The only thing missing was wolves, and now even they have filled their niche in the Tetons.  It was also the summer that we were able to see the cubs on an almost daily basis...
 
 
 
As I mentioned earlier, one of these bears became #615 and was killed by an over-eager elk hunter to whom any grizzly represented a threat to his life and well being, even one habituated to humans as these were.  The other became #610, and during our visit this summer we were able to see her and her two cubs on several occasions.  She was still living and raising her own family near willow flats...
 
 
 
#610 seems to be a fine mother, keeping a close eye on her youngsters and playing with them...
 
 
 
 
 
After a month in Yellowstone we returned to the Tetons and were surprised to see how much this cub of #610 had grown...
 
 
This year, 2015, #399 kicked her current two and a half year old cubs out and I was fortunate to see one of them near Pilgrim Creek.  This bear would be a half sibling to #610.  Rumor has it that he was trailing his mom at a distance, not yet ready to sever ties...
 
 
Since #399 was officially without cubs this summer, she was on the prowl for a new mate and we caught up with her not far from Lake Lodge...
 
 
 
The opportunity to become familiar with these bears, to see and watch them from year to year is what keeps us going back.  Following them in person, and on-line, becomes an obsession.  The thought that grizzly bears could soon be de-listed from the endangered species list is abhorrent to us.  The lives of these animals are worth so much more than the income derived from hunting licenses and guide fees.  At one time humans virtually eliminated grizzly bears from the lower 48 states.  Now, when the population is finally recovering from this travesty, it seems we can't wait to slaughter them again in the name of "sport".  If you want to know more about #399 and her life I would encourage you to watch the excellent video by Jim Laybourn, Always Endangered.  Feel free to share my blog and photos with anyone who might be interested.  Together we might make a difference.
 
Thanks for visiting, be well and come back soon.
 
 
 
 

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