I was heading back to the town of Banff after another fun day, I decided I needed to look for mountain goats first. As I was getting ready to make a right turn on the highway, I looked across, saw vehicles stopped and folks looking through the fence. Just by the reaction, it looked as if they were looking at something large and it was heading east. I kept that in mind as I went to look for goats. No goats, I headed for the town, did some birding and with just over an hour left before sunset. I decided to go and take sunset pictures, but first I wanted to see what folks were looking at along the highway, it might have been a bear and see if it came onto the side road.

Luck was on my side, it was a large grizzly and he decided to take the side road. It was taking its time, walking on and along the road. I backed up and called Banff Dispatch, if the bear kept going east, in about a km it would come across about 20 or more photographers near the road getting ready to watch and take pictures of the sunset. Knowing the road well, I watched the bear from a few hundred meters away. He was not in a hurry, taking his time. There was one small vehicle behind him, with three ladies from the states inside. They were going in the same direction and were afraid to drive by the bear. They kept the windows closed and were excited and afraid, even more when we later had a chat about the grizzly M126.


The bear after defecating on the middle of the road, went into the woods and it seemed he was not coming back out. I updated dispatch with what I saw and told them I was taking sunset pictures soon and would update them if anything changed. Now I had to make a decision, about half a km away was a large grizzly bear, I was parked 10 meters away from where I wanted to take a picture. There was still about 30 minutes before the sunset, but with the clouds moving in, the time was now. My car facing the direction where the bear would be coming from, set my camera in the car to go out, take a picture and back in my car. About 100 meters away were the rest of the people, with no idea about the grizzly. Just as I opened the car door, the grizzly came around the turn, walking the middle of the road. That evening there were going to be no sunset pictures for me, I took the attached picture and then backed my car toward the other photographers to let them know. Saw flashing light, help had arrived. Two wildlife colleagues who were having a busy evening, rolled down their windows, both smiling. As we all looked at the large grizzly walking middle of the road toward us, one said, “Amar, so where is this bear you call about”. I smiled, looked at M126, 12 to 15 years of age and easily over 400 lbs. “it’s that small cub walking toward us.”

Grizzly 191004 Amar Athwal.jpg