“I consider him in most respects the greatest animal on the North American continent, if not in the world. He excels in mental development and physical prowess, and he possesses the rare quality of loyalty. He is full of curiosity and a born adventurer. The species impresses one with superiority, and the individuality of each grizzly stands out .. stories of this ‘animal that walks like a man’ ever appeal; he is the most impressive animal on the continent. He is the dominant and the most distinguished animal of the world.”
— Enos Mills, ‘The Grizzly’.
My photographs represent the essence of how I experience these bears. Some of these images were taken in remote backcountry expeditions in the mountains of Alaska, others at popular, though still remote, bear viewing and bear photography locations in places like Katmai National Park.
Photographing grizzly bears is a thrill like no other. They are truly magnificent creatures, and a treat to behold. The grizzly bear, also known as the brown bear along the coastal reaches of Alaska and Western Canada, was once widespread across much of North America, but decimated by European settlers near to the point of extinction. A few grizzlies remain in isolated pockets of wilderness in the Lower 48, in places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. In Alaska and parts of Canada, the grizzly has prevailed and is doing well. Katmai National Park, southwest of Anchorage, in Alaska is one of the best bear viewing places anywhere in the world, with a large population of bears. The bears frequent much of the park, but are most commonly seen along the coastal areas of Hallo Bay and at Brooks River in July and September. There are many places in the region that are excellent for grizzly bear photography.
The bears are typically solitary animals, but congregate in places where there is an abundant food source. The rich salmon fisheries of the Alaskan Peninsula make for primary brown bear habitat; Katmai National Park is home to one of the densest populations of brown bears in the world, and consequently many of the grizzly bear photos we see are taken there. Though Alaskans tend to differentiate the coastal bears from the grizzlies of the interior and Lower 48 States, the 2 are actually the same species, both known as “Ursus arctos “. The rich protein of their salmon diet, for these coastal bears, makes for big bears. Males, known as “boars”, can reach weights of over 1500 pounds and stand over 10′ tall. Grizzly bears in places like Denali National Park or Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, are rarely even half that size, as much of their diet consists of berries, roots and grasses. They don’t get anywhere near the same volume of protein, which is why they don’t grow as large.
The bears forage voraciously throughout the summer months, storing as much fat as they can, before denning for the winter. They are not true hibernators, but rather sleep, much as we do, for an extended period of time. Young are born during this time, and emerge from the dens typically in April or May. The cubs stay with their mother for 2-3 years before leaving, at which time she’ll breed again. Breeding season is typically June and early July.
I’m constantly working towards furthering my stock photo lists, and improving my portfolio. These images are all of wild subjects, in their natural environment. Each photo is available for stock use, and photographic prints, screensavers, note cards or calendars are also available. To order any of these pictures, or for complete stock photo lists, licensing and/or print prices, please visit my stock site, Skolai Images.
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