Over a 24 hour period in Banff National Park I came across 6 different grizzly bears within a very small area. This accounts for about 10% of the population of grizzly bears estimated to be in the park. This time of year with snow still present at the higher elevations, the bears are concentrated in the valleys where elk calves and fresh dandelions are numerous. This family of bears is well known in the area. The mom, known as bear 64, is a 23 year old bear that is extremely smart and has adapted to life in the busy Bow Valley. She has three yearling cubs, and has been fitted with a radio collar, ear tag and ear tag transmitter to allow Parks Canada staff to monitor her movements. She makes a living in close proximity to people and so knowledge of her movements will help managers understand how to mitigate any potential problems and will also help them determine ways to keep the bears away from the railway. A more in depth article from the local newspaper can be found here. On this day she had to contend with two large male bears (known as boars) who were in the area. If possible, the boars will try to kill her cubs so she starts cycling again and therefore, the family is always on the lookout for these males. In this photo they are sniffing the air as a big male wandered into the area (though I wasn’t aware of this until about 5 minutes later when he showed up). The family quickly dispersed into the woods and the male was more interested in eating dandelion flowers than the female.

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