Even though they might only be little, grizzly bear cubs are pretty bold – bold enough to climb on a stick and poke their tongue out at my camera. They know full well, of course, that their mother outweighs me by several hundred pounds, is a coupla yards quicker than my aged legs can carry me :), is quite a bit stronger, has bigger, pointier teeth, sharper, longer claws, and is a little more willing to get in a tussle than I am. Hence, they’re pretty bold.
These cubs were actually not doing so well – only days earlier there had been 3 of them. Their mum either lost one, or the cub was possibly killed by another adult bear, most likely a male. Then, a couple of days after I shot this photo, the sow left these 2 cubs at river’s edge, and wandered a 1/4 mile or so downstream, fishing for Sockeye Salmon. The cubs hung around a bit, then headed off into the forest, where, I presume, they scampered up a spruce tree. At least an hour passed before the sow came sauntering back up river, realized she had no idea where they were, and began looking for them. She couldn’t find them and started calling out for them, then spent another hour or more looking for them, calling and calling, walking up and down the river, across the river, into the forest, out of the forest, all to no avail. I observed from a distance, then thought it might be wise to leave, so I headed off down river.
The next morning I saw the sow and cubs together again, then saw them again the following morning, but the sow only had one cub. She looked somewhat distressed, and I thought maybe she’d either lost the 2nd cub, or it had been killed. The next day she was relaxing on a sandbar with 2 cubs beside her. I didn’t see her again, but heard from some other folks they’d seen her a few days later with only cub again, and she was pretty upset. I’ll guess the grizzly bear cubs in this photo are not going to do too well this winter, if indeed they’re even both still alive at the moment. Their mum just doesn’t have it going on. I know very little about grizzly bears, but enough to know that if you’re going to try to raise your children along a river corridor that has over 70 grizzly bears wandering up and down it, you darn well better have your sh** together, regardless what species you happen to be. There’s a good reason the moose calf mortality rate in the area is 100%.