It’s finally salmon season – the fish have returned to their home streams and the bears are truly happy, feasting on the rich banquet. Because the bears are so focused on eating, they’re even less interested in humans – making it easier to sit on cold damp rocks and watch the action for hours.
It wasn’t unusual to find 7-9 bears in the stream at the same time, and it’s fascinating to see the unspoken social order, as bears might react when a new bear appears – sometimes bugging out, sometimes advancing to assert their dominance, often just ignoring them. It’s pretty civilized – we’ve only seen some bared teeth and a little growling once in the years we’ve been observing them.
Our days watching the bears were highlighted by a sow with three little first-year cubs.
Jim shot some video of their antics and their sincere attempts at hunting, as well as their excitement when mom caught a fish. “What’cha got there, Mom??”
Other bears came into the stream to fish – one employed the “snorkel” method…
One sow had a pair of second year rolly-polly cubs, though they were less enthusiastic hunters than the little triplets. Another had a second year cub that seemed to be cold and not too happy to be standing in the stream.
There is a lot of just standing in the frigid water, waiting for a fish trapped in a shallow pool….
…but when something catches your eye it gets pretty exciting!
Sometimes it got downright crowded, though everyone kept their distance and there were plenty of fish to go around.
After a few hours in the stream, little bears get pretty tired… “can we go home now, Mom?”
One more fish, this one is just for Mom. She’s nursing three growing cubs, after all.