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.”

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Black Bear

It seems the black bears are tired this summer being 2nd best. They are out there in force, being spotted regularly in the front country for several weeks now. Colleagues dealing with wildlife calls dealing with young, old and mothers with cubs. Black bears are doing far better and have greater numbers and can be found in far more places across North America. More of the visitors who visit the mountains have seen a black bear already, far fewer have ever come across a brown bear in their life. Brown bears have far smaller range from their historic land they called home. The brown bear here in Banff as many other places is studied, to help them be more successful on the landscape. And when grizzlies are successful on the landscapes, it also means a vast amount of flora and fauna are doing very well on the same land. I always have to remind myself, the black bear does not care that the grizzlies are getting more attention, they only care that they have a place where they can be wild. Here’s a beautiful black bear that was easily moving through an area that needed two prescribed burns to help create habitat that both bears can call home.

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