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Be Aware of Emerging Bears

Posted By: Tony Bynum

Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/28/07 05:10 PM

Be Aware of Emerging Bears

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park Superintendent Mick Holm
reminds park visitors that bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation
and visitors therefore need to be alert for bear activity and obey safety
regulations while visiting the park.

Holm said, “Glacier National Park is home to both grizzly and black bears
and visitors must act accordingly when they visit. Take precautions to
avoid a bear encounter. Make your presence known by calling out or clapping
at frequent intervals, especially near streams and at blind spots on the
trails. Additionally, maintain a safe distance from bears and other

While neither bears nor tracks have yet been reported this spring,
mid-March is when male bears begin to emerge from hibernation. Once they
emerge, bears roam widely in search of food, and will aggressively protect
their food source. Females, which tend to emerge slightly later, will also
fiercely defend their cubs. All visitors should be aware for any evidence
of bear activity.

Holm added, “Park visitors must store food and other odorous items inside
hard-sided vehicles or in food lockers and dispose of garbage in a
bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. Proper food storage is essential to
preventing bears from becoming habituated to human food.”

“Though bear encounters are extremely rare in Glacier, visitors can
consider carrying bear pepper spray to be used in the event that a bear
charges. However, it is imperative that people do not develop a false sense
of security by carrying it; continue to take the precautions to avoid an
encounter. Further, visitors must be familiar with the can’s operation, and
the spray’s limitations,” Holm said.

According to the manufacturers, bear pepper spray should only be used at
short distances (10-30 feet). Wind, cold, rain and product age may alter
its effectiveness. The canisters have a safety feature, and visitors must
understand how to disengage it. The spray must also be immediately
available; do not store the spray inside a pack.

Holm also noted that bear pepper spray is not a repellent. “Do not apply
bear pepper spray to people, tents, packs or other recreational equipment.
It is only designed to be sprayed at charging or attacking bears at close

Bear pepper spray is clearly labeled for use against bears and must be
registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Only brands
specifically labeled for use against bears can be transported legally
across the border into Canada. Personal defense sprays not designed for use
on bears may be ineffective.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the
nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon
as possible. This information helps park rangers keep bears away from
unnatural food sources, as well as prevents bears from becoming habituated
to humans.

For further information on Glacier National Park, visit the park’s Web site
at or call 406-888-7800.
Posted By: Don Edwards

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/28/07 07:38 PM

Excellent post Tony, those of us going to Yellowstone or Glacier, or any where in the outdoors this time of year should be alert and vigilant when it come to bear country.

Posted By: RichardR

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/28/07 08:25 PM

Timely topic, Tony, and that article has good advice, particulary with respect to bear spray.

A good friend, a senior biologist with NPS who spends a great deal of time in the backcountry, once told me "Bear Spray is most effective when the can is taped to the barrel of a 12guage shotgun loaded with rifled slugs."

Because of the limited range and the fact that bears can run at speeds of up to 35mph, you don't have much time to spray a charging bear.

The spray is your only choice in the national parks where firearms are prohibited and I carry a can with me, but the best to avoid unhappy endings is to follow the advice given above, use common sense, and make your personal safety, not photography, the #1 priority when sharing ground with bears, whether Grizzlies or Black Bears. This is a quote from a NPS website concerning a woman who was killed by black bears in the Smokies a few years ago: "The woman who was recently killed by a mother bear and cub was found to have pictures to the offending bears in her camera."

To paraphrase the old song; "He ain't my brother but he sure is heavy":


Posted By: rustin

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/28/07 09:29 PM

I ran over a backpack of mine once. It had a can of bear mace and my rain gear inside. Every time I am wearing my top I feel a burning sensation where the fabric touches my bare skin. I am to cheap to buy a new one. It has been washed multiple times to no avail. Rustin
Posted By: Marty Everhard

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/30/07 01:15 AM

Oh Man what a shot of the bear ..............
Posted By: bob swanson

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/30/07 11:37 AM

Yeah! A shot to die for. bsvirginian
Posted By: Marty Everhard

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/31/07 03:24 PM

Let's see those bear pictures now!
I know there are some good ones out there- and since we have everyones attention now, lets turn this into a bear workshop. I feel like a hunter, I want to bag a bear. I am planning to try the Redwood forest in CA for black bears soon. What type of tips can we put out here- SAFETY FIRST I am sure!
Posted By: Don Edwards

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 03/31/07 09:06 PM

Here's a cinamon color black bear from Yellowstone last year

Posted By: glamson

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/01/07 12:03 AM

Here is a young cinammon colored black bear at Mammoth Lakes last summer taking a dip.

Posted By: rustin

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/01/07 01:03 AM

I took this in the Yukon on my birthday last year. I was using my van as a blind. He got so close that I could not focus with my 400 5.6. He was just cruising along eating raspberries. I have some good ones with him pushing them into his mouth with his tongue out. I wish that I had my 70-200 2.8 on because of the low light. Rustin
Posted By: Tony Bynum

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/01/07 03:11 PM

Bears are where you find them, use your head, and NEVER, EVER, let your gaurd down. These animals are so fast and so unpredictable that you have to always be alert. As soon as you let down your gaurd, you'll be on one in the most unassuming places.

By the way, this is a wild, free ranging, young grizzly, NOT photographed in a national park. . . I never shoot captive animals.

Posted By: Marty Everhard

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/01/07 05:40 PM

These pictures are great. I know everyone is liking it. Where are some of the prime places and times for capturing these photos? ( inter mountain regions) I know Yellowstone, Glacier, the Redwoods- but what time in the seasons, particular areas, etc,,,,,,,things that would help someone (like me) actually be in the right place at the right time!
Posted By: rustin

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/04/07 03:16 PM

Great shot. My shot was also of a wild and free ranging bear. NOT photographed in a National Park....I also do not photograph captive animals. Rustin
Posted By: Tony Bynum

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/04/07 03:41 PM

Marty, I NEVER direct people on where or when to find bears, especially people I don’t know and have not spent time in the field with. Not because I’m a jerk, although some have said I am, but because it’s not right to tell someone to go to griz country (that includes blacks around here too, because they live in the same places) without knowing what they are doing, how they carry themselves and what are their skills. I don’t quibble over this issue. I do help most anyone that asks about photography in around the Park, but with bears I’m tight lipped, about the only way you ever will find them using my advise is to come along with me, and even then I dont go in seach of grizzly bears. One of my very best friends has been a grizzly bio for 20 years and he still tells me there's no pattern. . .

I will tell you this much, griz den at 7000 feet - mostly in snow drifts and the males, and sows with yearling cubs are first to emerge - right now - followed by sows with young of the year - still a couple weeks out.

NEVER approach a griz, make noise, and if you come upon one, just back out slowly, talk to them, and anticipate their direction but never cut them off and always give them respect. They will tell you if they are mad at you, or are not happy with your being near them.

As for where to find them, in the national parks listed is a good place to start, bears are where you find them otherwise!
Posted By: Marty Everhard

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/05/07 03:35 AM

A public forum may not be the best place for " directions to" but it is interesting conversation you must agree. Understood my friend, guess I need a field trip with you one day then. We get some black bear here, but they are few and far between. I have only seen one, I've been here 25 years,and I am in the outdoors lots.(Utah) If I saw a griz, the brownest thing would probably be my shorts anyway. I am sure you understand the fascination. I guarantee this thread is well read. It is not lost on me that the thread started with a beware ............ keep those shots coming though! There are some great shots coming in I won't risk my ass on one though. I'll stick to my friendly sharks for that. As some of you know, my forte is underwater photography, which led me to other natural wildlife and landscape- ( abundant in Utah, but not bear!).
Best wishes to all.
Posted By: jamesdak

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/05/07 01:15 PM

Well, I've had several bear encounters but not by choice. I used to run into them regular in the mountains as a youth. But, I'm the first to admit that I do not know enough and am not comfortable being around them. Especially if I'm in a National Park, on foot, and without a firearm. In Montana I always carry bear spray but I hope I never find out if I can really get it out and in use in time.

These were from Glacier last summer in the evening. I spotted the bear foraging by the side of the road and stopped to get a few shots. And yes, it did cause the usual "bear jam" with all these idiots out of the cars and walking up on the bear with their little point and shoots. Shot from the car using a 300mm f/4 and 1.4x t-con and a better beamer flash extender.

Posted By: Marty Everhard

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/05/07 05:02 PM

Nice shots. How do you like the beamer, are you using it much?
Posted By: RichardR

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/11/07 02:50 AM

Some really great bear photos, guys!

The bears were particularly active in the lower elevations of the Smokies this past year due to mast crop failure in the higher regions. Hopefully, the crop will be better this year and they won't be quite so plentiful in the areas people frequent and the areas I like to roam for deer. Like Tony, I don't go looking for bears but they do share the same space sometimes.

I always enjoy seeing the cubs but you must always be aware that mama is nearby. I cannot emphasize enough all the safety warnings and advice that's been posted in this thread already.

This one was coming down a tall tree to join his mama and two siblings.

This mama had three cubs but I couldn't get them all in the same frame with the telephoto.

Always remember they have these:

And these:

Even when they're sleeping in the trees, you always have to be mindful that they will wake up!

A two-year old female. I've seen her and her sister on several occasions. They aren't known to be troublemakers but you never know.

My best advice is to shoot from a car when you can and if not, use a long lens. Being careful isn't enough; you've got to learn all you can about bears but remember, the bears don't read the same books!


Posted By: Marty Everhard

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/11/07 03:26 AM

Awesome shots. What were you using and at what exif? This thread is great!
Posted By: RichardR

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/11/07 09:37 AM

Thank you, Marty.

Sorry I forgot to put the data. All were taken with my Nikon D70/70-200VR & most with 1.7x TC. Too late to edit so here's the basic EXIF:

All taken in less than ideal lighting conditions as is the usual case. Shot in RAW; Aperture Priority; Center-Weighted Meter.

#1 Coy Cub: f3.2; 1/160th sec.; 300mm; ISO 400.

#2 Climbing Cub: f6.3; 1/125th sec.; 190mm; ISO 500.

#3 Mama & Cubs: f4; 1/80th sec.; 116mm; ISO 1600.

#4 Bear Teeth: f4.8; 1/320th sec.; 340mm; ISO 800; heavily cropped.

#5 Bear Claws: f6.3; 1/250th sec.; 340mm; ISO 400; also heavily cropped.

#6 Sleeping Bear: f6.3; 1/250th sec.; 270mm; ISO 400

#7 Two Year Old: f.6; 1/200th sec.; 140mm; ISO 1000


Posted By: thedra

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/11/07 07:45 PM

Don't suppose they will be wandering about in late June when I plan on coming down there, will they

Posted By: Don Edwards

Re: Be Aware of Emerging Bears - 04/11/07 08:39 PM

The Smokies are on our list of places to see, my wife has been there and i haven't.
Posted By: Marty Everhard

Exif data - 04/12/07 03:00 AM

Richard, Thank you for posting the exif data. Those are sure some priceless photographs. Looks like that D70 does great at the higher ISO's. I see dynamics are tricky with these dark animals as well.
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