August’s Photo of the Month winner is George, with his photo “My First Grizzly in the Wild.” Our winner once again demonstrates excellent photo composition: a waterline that draws our attention to the subject sitting askew to the middle, and complimentary earthy hues of the water, vegetation, and bear’s coat as it rears on its hind legs, inquisitively peering above the riverside grass.
Although birds make lovely subjects for photography (and often win the Photo of the Month), we decided that this month would be something different. With the recent onset of this year’s Pink salmon fishery, we have selected this photo of a Grizzly bear to promote bear awareness throughout the coming months.
Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) are discernible from Black bears, though they both share characteristic appearances. A Grizzly bear may be brown, black, or even blonde with a marked or uniformly coloured coat. The best way to identify a Grizzly from a Black bear is by examining the head (ears, face), the back, and the tracks. The ears of a Grizzly are short and rounded and the face profile is dished with a convex appearance; there is an obvious hump protruding from the shoulders that is higher than its rump; the front claws are up to 13 cm long, and the small toe is located more forward than on a Black bear. The average weight of a Grizzly bear is around 250 kg, though they can grow to upwards of 700 kg!
Grizzlies are found throughout northwestern North America and may have a home range of upwards of 800 km2. The large range is indicative of the potential for human-bear conflict. Relying most heavily on their sense of smell for finding food, “problem bears” occur where home range overlaps with urbanised areas. Interestingly, majority of a Grizzly bear’s diet comes from vegetation. This includes tender grasses, herbaceous plants, roots, and berries. However, all bears are opportunistic omnivores and also feed on insects, salmon, juvenile mammals, weakened large mammals, carrion, and even other bears. In the coastal regions of BC, Grizzlies feed mostly in estuaries and valley bottom wetlands.
The BC Conservation Foundation has an initiative called Bear Aware which seeks to manage and reduce human-bear conflict through education, innovation, and cooperation. They offer a variety of online resources, and do organised presentations as well. Check out their website at www.bearaware.bc.ca.