Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bitterroot Bears

This is the first good look I've gotten at bears in the Bitterroot. I saw these black bears on a hike along the Forest Service road up the ridge behind my cabin.  Grizzlies generally only occur east of here, in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and north of here, in and around the Bob and Glacier National Park.  But any mama bear with cubs is dangerous.  These were pretty far from me, on the other side of a deep draw, so there was no danger.

A little better perspective on the distance. 

Right after the first two passed from view, this little one came hurrying along after.

Before this, the only time I'd seen a bear in the Bitterroot was while driving home on the East Fork Road last fall at around midnight.  When my headlights reached the bear, it launched straight up a steep hillside, so all I saw was a vertical black blur.  It's extremely impressive how quickly a bear can go straight uphill.  That song "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" ain't kidding.  And that was in late fall, when the bear would've been at its maximum weight getting ready to go into hibernation.

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