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We start with a little background for the photos and this blog.
The ecosystem that contains Yellowstone and Grand Teton together with parts of northwest Montana are the only places south of Canada that still have large populations of grizzly bears. Once the bears' range included the mountains and prairies of much of the American West. Now it is much more limited.
Females can weigh up to 400 pounds and males almost twice that much. They are larger than their black bear cousins and more aggressive. They are impressive to see. Even their Latin name is impressive - Ursus arctos horribilis. Their color ranges from black to blond
A single horribilis may range over hundreds of miles during his lifetime. A male might range as far as 2,000 miles over his lifetime. Females, as far as 550 miles. An estimated 700 bears make their home in the Yellowstone, Grand Teton ecosystem which includes about 20,000 square miles of territory.
The males tend to be solitary and avoid roads. Females with cubs are what you are likely to see at a Yellowstone bear jam, as they seek the protection that comes from being in areas the male grizzlies avoid. Male grizzlies have been known to eat grizzly cubs. Their principal diet includes insects, rodents, elk calves, cutthroat trout, roots, pine nuts, grasses and large mammals.
Females give birth during hibernation and stay with their cubs for two years. And, oddly, while the Park Service states that there is no evidence that grizzly bears are “overly attracted to menstrual odors,” their web site does post a series of recommendations to menstruating women on what to do to reduce the risk of an attack. Apparently, this is a topic of much discussion.
The bears you are seeing are a mother and her old cub. Our encounter with them in Yellowstone followed a traditional pattern. We had disengaged Magic Mike (see our May 24 post – Magic Mike and the Otter) and were driving around the park on our own. When we headed south from Mammoth Hot Springs we were delayed by a team reconstructing the main road. The road team said there were of grizzlies in the area.
Sure enough, when we exited the construction area we were greeted with the sight of dozens of cars pulled over and visitors with their cameras and binoculars looking to the west. We joined the group and watched a mother and cub tearing up wet ground and nuzzling below for acorns and other seeds that had been cached there earlier by pocket gophers.
It was shocking to see how easily mother or cub could toss a tree trunk out of the way. A swipe of the paw was all it took to dispatch a large log. If you look closely at the previous picture you can see where the bears tilled the soil as they dug their way down to the pocket gopher caches.
This was our last animal siting of the day. The bears took their time eating and walking over to a nearby stream to drink. We slowed down as well, drinking (sorry for the pun) in the scene and enjoying the cool soft air and the company of others watching the bears.
So, what are you seeing above? The first photo is the cub with his nose muddied from all his digging. The second is the mom. The two are together in the third and forth photos which show the ground dug up and their stroll to a nearby stream.
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Next week we take a break and revisit a discussion from an earlier blog about whaling and venture capital. All photos and text copyright Clinton Richardson. These and other images from Yellowstone and Grand Teton are posted in the Wild Wyoming Gallery of the American West Collection in the TrekPic.com website.
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The venture moola blog comes to you from Atlanta, Georgia. Find it at readjanus.com. Copyright Clinton Richardson.
Travel, history, and business with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor, traveler.
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