Between Banff and Radium, in the Kootenay National Park, I found this young bear grazing on dandelions on a steep hillside at the forest’s edge. Probably three years old given the size but still impressive in appearance and bearing. I was happy to have a long lens to bring this one close.
This subspecies of the black bear has even earned its own formal name, Ursus americanus cinnamomum. They are beautiful animals no matter the color but it was great to see one that had such a distinctive rust hued coat. With the rain, the colors really saturated and created a sheen that worked at some angles but was a challenge at other ones.
On Sunday morning I went into West Bragg to look or wildlife along the backroads and a few trails. When I got to Wild Rose, there was a moose cow halfway up a driveway. I didn’t have a good angle but it was nice to watch it eating branches for a few minutes. While I was waiting to see if she would walk into a better position, another moose walked into another stand of branches that was much closer to me. About 20 meters away! She didn’t seem bothered by me so I set about photographing my new friend.
After about half an hour, her curiosity got the best of her as she walked out of the bushes, onto the driveway and walked towards me. I stepped back towards the rear of my car and she walked around the front.
She snacked on a small group of brambles right beside where I had parked my car for a couple of minutes and then retraced her path back up the driveway.
She stopped at a few branches as she walked up the rise and then laid down on the lawn in the snow.
I took this last picture before I left her to relax. I hope spring comes soon so that all of the wildlife get to forage on some greenery. I think this winter’s early start, cold spells and deep snow have taken a toll on their reserves.
We’re up in Banff for a few days and staying at the Douglas Fir Resort (nice place with an excellent waterslide for the kids) on Tunnel Mountain. We drove past a few elk (wapiti) cows near the lodge yesterday which served as good foreshadowing for this morning.
I went down to the Vermilion Lakes for a sunrise shoot and when I was out on the lake edge I noticed this bull elk laying down on the hill above me along the wildlife fence that runs along the highway corridor to prevent wildlife collisions. I carried on with my landscape shooting for almost an hour and when I returned to my car saw the bull had only moved a few meters along the ridge. I changed to a telephoto lens and climbed up the mountainside a fair distance away from him. I stayed in sight so he knew where I was and headed up the opposite direction from where his grazing was taking him along the ridge. I wasn’t sure if the elk would stick around or trot around the rocks. I was wading through some deep snow so it took a few minutes to get up but he hadn’t wandered away. I set up my tripod and then photographed the beautiful animal for about half an hour before I headed back down. He was eating the whole time and was not bothered by me (a true advantage of longer lenses) so his head was down low most of the time. He did raise his head up a few times, once in response to a train whistle, and I took a couple of those images. Really a great encounter – too bad a little sunlight couldn’t break through the morning cloudbank to bring some warm illumination to that coat – but no complaints.
Elk are members of the deer family which, in North America, includes moose, whitetails and mule deer. In sheer size, they aren’t the largest but as you can see with this buck their antlers can be incredible. This fellow is young and skinny. I think the winter has been hard on many animals this year with the cold and the deep snow burning a lot of calories that are hard to come by. A very good reason to look forward to spring.