Grizzly

Just under two hours were left before sunset, I decided to go for a drive. Middle of a straight way, several vehicles were parked on both sides of the road. Folks were out of the vehicles and looking up the slope of the mountain. I stopped and asked what they were looking at, black bear they said and pointed. I looked in the direction and then quickly pulled out my binoculars, it was not a black bear but a large grizzly. I told the crowd who were looking or trying to locate the bear and taking pictures with all type of cameras, even when it was about 400 meters away. As soon as they heard me, they asked if it was the “boss”, I said yes it was M122. Making his way up the slope of the mountain, I started wondering why. They do not use up all that energy for no reason. It was not an area where it was going to go over a pass, nothing to dig up and too early to go up and looks for moths under the rocks. Perhaps there was a kill up there, the wolf pack have gone up there and cougars hunted in the area. We would never know if he found anything, but he sure made lot of visitors to Banff happy that evening, as they observed with their eyes, binoculars, cameras and with a scope one gentleman pulled out for others to use.

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Elk

Relatively speaking, it started out easier for the elk this winter. Not as cold and less snow on the ground. They still had to eat the same less nutritious food, no greens in the winter. But less snow to move aside to get at the food and less energy needed to get through the milder days and nights. But all that changed, snow storms started to come through and February brought with it much colder temperatures. Just like these three bulls, they have to spend more energy moving lots more snow to get at the less nutritious food and as well, losing lots more energy to survive the colder days and nights. Until spring arrives, they will be getting weaker, while their predators get stronger.

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Grizzly

Had an early morning adventure, small hike after taking sunrise pictures. I was back in the Bow Valley, when I saw a large male grizzly on the edge of the forest. It was the famous Banff grizzly M122, who I have seen more toward the end of the season this year. Dispatch had been informed of M122 being in the area, soon after colleagues dealing with human-wildlife conflict arrived. Weekend mid-morning during the fall season tend to be quiet, but there were workers in the area and everyone wanted to make sure the grizzly passed them safely. The bear was given lots of space, he decided the pace he wanted to move at. And boy did he take his time, stopping to dig, moving in and out of the forest, crossing the road several times, he was not in a hurry. As if he was enjoying the VIP or should I say VIB treatment.

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Grizzly

Few big male grizzlies are still walking around in the mountains. Relatively speaking the warmer temperatures has to be playing a role and if food is out there, the big grizzlies are going to find it and can easily fight other predators for it.

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Snowshoe Hare

When the snow is on the ground, I come across so many snowshoe hare tracks, but rarely see them. A few weeks back, I came across this little one, hiding under low branches. Taking its time changing from its summer colours to the its winter colours. Without its white winter coat, it would be easily spotted by its predators, giving it a short life.

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Grizzly

It  was a cool evening and I was waiting in my vehicle for a large grizzly to come out in the open. He was still few hundred meters away and was taking his sweet time.  With the window down I could feel the cool breeze every now and then, looking out, listening and wondering if griz was going to come out before the dark. May of 2011 was the first time I saw this male, he was a skinny young male walking  along a road in a another national park. Two years later I saw him again, he was filling in nicely in terms of weight and his role in the mountains. In the last few years I have seen him several times, Banff NP is his main home, his range covers at least two more parks that I'm aware of. By chance last year I saw him with at least three females, for one female he covered 60 kms in two days to mate with. This fall from my eyes he looks to be easily over 600 pounds and is making the most of his size on the landscape. My waiting paid, he stayed on route and gave me a minute to see him before he was out of sight again. He should be close his time for deep sleep for the winter, if he isn't already. Hoping to see him again next spring.

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Elk

The rut season is over, the elk are taking advantage of the mild weather to gain weight. Particularly important for the dominant bulls. who lost 20 to 30 percent of their weight battling other bulls. The more weight the bulls gain, easier it will be getting through the winter.

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Grizzly

On my way back from a great outing, where I was exploring and taking pictures, I came across this large grizzly walking near the road. In his full fall weight, all ready to go into a deep sleep to pass the winter. Every now and then he would stop to dig for some calories and then continue his merry way.

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Moose

Moose like other wildlife have been dealing with more snow and cooler temperatures much earlier this year. Even with warmer days coming up tomorrow, much of their food has fallen to the ground. The moose will start eating twigs sooner then later.

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Elk

The decibel level of elk bugling is 90 dB at 4 meters, lawnmower and food blender are two items that have similar sound levels. I have heard the bugling as far as 1 km away, with elk's larger ears, they would be able to hear the bugling from even further distance. this is important for the females who want to mate with a stronger male and help keeps weaker males away. Over 85 dB can lead to damage for human ears, another reason for us humans to keep our distance from wildlife. The recommend safe distance from elk i at least 30 meters. at that distance the bugling sound level comes to 72.5 dB. Close to the sound level when you're using a vacuum.

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Elk

I came across this bull elk during a snow storm. I saw him with a small harem, away from any other males that might challenge him. He was still bugling, letting others know the harem was his.

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Elk

The rut season is full on, the bulls can be head calling out throughout the Bow Valley. Here’s one of the bull with its harem I have been able to watch. The bull working to keep his harem together, calling out to attract more females and keep lesser males away. Still few weeks to go for the rut season, still time for other bulls to challange.

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Grizzly

If it takes a village to raise a child, the same can be said about a grizzly bear in the front country. A grizzly growing up near people will be spotted by visitors and locals, they will pass on the sightings to dispatch. Dispatch will inform resource conservation officers dealing with wildlife, supported by the wardens and wildlife guardians and others. If the bear decides it wants to spend time where people live, visit and play, wildlife officers can be dealing with the same bear several times a day. Keeping the bear and people safe, giving the bear space to eat and move without the two legged mammals getting in the way. Providing a balance between letting the bear making a living and providing an opportunity for the people to see and or get a picture when it's safe to do so. The risk factors increase when you include moving vehicles in the mix, even more so when the road is a four lane highway and its middle of a very busy summer day and you have close to hundred vehicles stopped. People wanting to or do cross over four lanes, sometimes with kids by their side as vehicles drive by 90 km or faster, just to see a bear who is moving on the good (the side road is not on) side of the fence or across a  wildlife overpass. Day in and day out, these are some of the constant challenges for the bears and those protecting wildlife and people face. All this for many small and one  ultimate payoff, adding a new generation to the ecosystem. For eight years two grizzly sisters were looked after when help was needed, this May those two came out of their den with their first cubs. Here's one of them with one cub by her side and the other still playing in the shrubs behind them on a quiet evening in the mountains. 

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Grizzly

When I'm watching wildlife I always have the camera ready to take pictures. When possible, if I'm safe from harm, I'm looking at the wildlife through the camera. Always ready to take the  picture I don't want to miss, things happen fast and I don't want to be distracted when seconds count. With the mother near, the cubs were busy playing, and I was busy deciding which cub to follow with my camera. In the end, I kept going back and forth through the camera between the two cubs. For this picture I had a few seconds to get it, the cubs were not interested in staying in one place, they were play fighting or rolling around on the ground.  As soon as I got this cub in focus between the blades of grass, I took the picture. 

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Grizzly

Following their mom, always near her for safety. About a month to go and some bears will start getting ready for the  long winter nap. They are busy trying to gain weight, the more they gain the better chance they have getting through the coming winter. For the mother of these cubs, she also have to make sure there is enough food for her cubs. 

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