How do you like your bears?

_MG_2826 (1), black bear, Banff, dandelions

So what’s that’s expression again? Hungry as a …

Whenever I bring up the subject of bears, the reactions are all over the map.

When I talked to tourists in Banff National Park last week they just wanted to know where to find them. A sighting immediately created a buzz. A helpful person who worked at a park information centre kept a personal bear count over the entire year. Apparently bears even attract the love of the locals.

_MG_2451

Bears aren’t the only amazing sight in the Rockies. Who knew?

Around home I am often met with expressions of paralyzing fear and concern for my safety. I like the puzzled look when I tell them that if bears generally wanted to attack people there would be countless fatalities annually given all the opportunities. It never changes anyone’s mind but I am bemused.

Other wildlife photographers’ eyes tend to light up at the thought of shooting bears. A professional photographer I spoke to had thousands of amazing photos and was trying to take photos of other wild animals for his business. But the lure of the bears kept pulling him back. I don’t think they’ve invented a drug to counteract this addictive behaviour!

When I show someone a photo, it’s common for the first question to be how close I was to the bear. I have to admit it’s a little deflating to start with logistics rather than the beauty and power of these amazing animals. I have a long lens, I’m typically in a vehicle when I see them and I respect wild animals – so I’m safe. It also helps that during my lifetime, I have gone from commonly watching people feed bears roadside to never witnessing that harmful behaviour. Who knew people could change and make it safer for everyone?

Not only do reactions differ but people like their bears in a lot of different ways including:

  • Wild
  • In good light
  • Rare
  • Hungry
  • In a different time zone
  • Big
  • With a slow runner between them and the bear
  • Friendly
  • Well fed
  • Angry
  • Only as cubs
  • Behind bars
  • Cute

And me? As long as they are wild and in my lens, I like them all. It’s entirely possible that’s a higher percentage than humans!

So how do you like your bears?

_B5A0613

Some wildlife is a lot easier to respect than others. I have no problem respecting bears.

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Latest Comments

  1. Dalo 2013 says:

    Great post…nothing lights up my mind more than the talk of bears and possible sightings. I have only seen a few in the wild, however ~ Banff in June sounds good!

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  2. My Heartsong says:

    Great shots, Lyle.I have seen a couple of bears from horseback or car although there was the time a black bear walked into the kitchen from the back patio in Jasper. It worried me that the foghorn had little effect on him and he showed no fear.Of course I didn’t have my camera with me or I totally forgot to use it..It is not good for bears or people that they are getting used to us. I like to see bears but from a safe distance behind a long lens. So sad that 3 have died in the parks this past week, some from collisions with cars. Drive slow, people.

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks. A bear in the kitchen is not the ideal scenario – especially one that is not afraid. The whole bear/human relationship can be complicated so it’s nice to see a healthy fear. I was pleased that one of the bears we were watching heard a train in the distance, got spooked and ran off into the forest. That should bode well for interaction with trains anyway.

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  3. vanbraman says:

    Behind a barrier 🙂

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  4. Stefano says:

    Awesome post and beautiful images as always, Lyle.
    I get much of the same reactions that you so aptly described when I show my photographs of bears. I guess you get used to it in the end… There is a lot of misconception and misinformation about bears and other wildlife, it’s just a fact that we have to live with.
    As to your question, while I love almost all wildlife (with a few exceptions, like most bugs and spiders) bears, all bears, are probably my ultimate favorite animals. I could observe them and photograph them for countless hours without ever getting bored. 🙂

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I think the quickest hour of our trip last week was photographing a bear so I’m with you all the way on that one. I suppose the reactions are universal when dealing with such a powerful animal – I’m still in the getting used to it phase or just a slow learner. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  5. whichwaynow101 says:

    We don’t have any bears in the desert! lol but I always love your bears. That cutie with a mouthful of dandelions looks so innocuous, like you could pet him, but I’m pleased to know you are safe in the car (most of the time?). Like that list!

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  6. Garden Walk Garden Talk says:

    I like to see the bears, but I think I would like to be further away than they can get to me in my car, like at the end of my binoculars. Your photos are gorgeous. I will let you do all that dangerous photographing. I know you are in a car, but have bears not attacked cars? Like you said, it is good people stopped feeding them.

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I am happy to do bear photography and happy to show you the results. I think we may have found roles we are comfortable with! I’m glad you the photos.

      The short answer to your question is yes in rare cases. However, the question indicates it’s possible I may start with different assumptions about safety and risk. There are risks everywhere. For example, I might get struck by lightning, attacked and killed by a dog or shot by a crazy person. As long as I take reasonable precautions, I say I’m safe even though I don’t have a 100% guarantee those things won’t happen. I eagerly desire bear photos so I’m willing to be where the bears are but still take precautions to make it safe. For others that tiny increased risk is not worth it and that’s fine. Does that make sense?

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  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wow that first photo of the bear stuffing his face with those dandelions is a real stunner! I’d be thrilled with that if it was the only shot I came away with.
    Another thing I learned while reading this post is that you could substitute bear for alligator and you pretty much describe many of the reactions I get from people when I photograph those big reptiles. I’m also not generally afraid for my life, common sense (should) prevail.
    I would always prefer my bears just like you do, out free in the wild living their bear lives.

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      The funny thing is that I was thinking of you and gators when I was writing this. And I seem to recall some comments I have made about your safety (note to self – quit that). Some knowledge, common sense and familiarity can give a person an entirely different perspective.

      Glad you liked that dandelion chewer! I still think it’s funny that such a powerful creature eats dandelions of all things. Where’s the meat???

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  8. Lavinia Ross says:

    I was up in the Calgary/Jasper/Lake Louise/Banff area back in 1981. I remember seeing wildlife calmly grazing beside the main road, and people pulled over photographing them. Glad you do respect those bears, though, and want to keep them wild. In areas of the country where the human population is high and they have habituated to people, there are always bear-human conflicts. Back in east, people in our town one year were warned not to put out bird feeders. Bears had learned to upend them, funneling down the seed like popcorn. Bird feeders became known as “bear feeders”. Bird feeder filching became garbage can rummaging, and so on. If you saw a bear with a yellow ear tag, it had usually “done something” at some point to warrant being captured and marked. The State of New Jersey, unfortunately, has resorted to having an annual bear hunt, and not with a camera.
    http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearseason_info.htm

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Last week someone from North Carolina was also telling me how his bird feeder had become a bear feeder. I am fascinated by the ingenuity of animals to overcome obstacles and get at the food. Humans have to be quite vigilant to those areas to keep those bear-human conflicts to a minimum. Too bad about the bear hunt.

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  9. Mandy says:

    I’ll take the bears any way you wish to present them.

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  10. cuervo says:

    Being responsible for the welfare of chickens, ducks, plums and apples, I appreciate bears beyond the fence and in the bushes. With high regard for their place in the circle of life, at times I need to emphasize my presence and send them packing, but am careful not to poke, prod or perturb them.
    Shaken, not stirred.

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  11. Sue says:

    Through a long telephoto lens. We have encountered black bears several times while canoeing in the boundary waters, so yes! I have a healthy respect for them!

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  12. Honie Briggs says:

    Chilled with a slice of lime…no wait, that’s beers. I like bears in their natural habitat, on TV, and of course here at Krahnpix.

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  13. judeconning says:

    Love my bears alive and wild. We only have Koala Bears in Australia and they tell us they are not bears! Love your blog, just don’t get a chance to comment very often.

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Those are definitely two things I admire in bears. It’s funny that something called a bear wouldn’t be a bear. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I do have fun playing in this sandbox.

      Like

  14. Mike Powell says:

    I can admire the beauty and the power of bears as reflected in your images, but have never seen one in the wild. Perhaps some day…(though I probably need to get a longer lens first–I like your approach of keeping a healthy distance).

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  15. Steve Gingold says:

    I’ve only seen a few bears around here in the fur, but more by sign. However, the other day I saw a very athletic one…ran up an incline, cleared the guard rail with little effort, flew across the road in front of me and then over the other rail like it wasn’t there. All this was done in the blink of one of my eyes. Not at all a lumbering animal but graceful and lithe. And a challenge to my driving reflexes.
    To answer your question…since I don’t get to see many and we don’t have any griz here I like them any way I can get them as long as I am not between Mama and junior. 🙂

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It is fascinating that they can appear to be slow and lumbering and yet be fast when the impulse strikes. I saw a young grizzly seemingly flying up an incline once and it gave me a whole new respect for their capability. I like the way you like them!

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  16. JF says:

    Almost every year I meet an adult bear or a mother bear with cubs here, in the forest or on golf course of Pocono Manor.
    Once I was on the road from the inn to the Carriage House slowly drinking my cup of coffee and thinking something very profound when I saw a large (very large?) bear sitting on the road 2-3 metres from me. Apparently, he already had his coffee. In a minute (or an hour?) he went in the forest. From that time my wife always has a whistle for bears safety. However, everybody in the Carriage House prefer a beautiful black wooden bear. It is chained between trees (to prevent stealing) and it is on every photo of Carriage House’s guests.

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    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I suppose bears like their golf and coffee too! I hope you managed to retrieve that profound thot before the bear interrupted. It is sometimes a challenge to have bears and humans in the same area particularly on golf courses. Though the bears must have some popularity if the wooden bear has to be chained.

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  17. Stephen G. Hipperson says:

    We don’t have them here except in zoos, where they always look particularly pitiful.

    Like

  18. Gunta says:

    I’d love to see a bear (much less shoot one). Local loggers have said that they’re up there in our woods, but have yet to encounter one. There’s also been cougar sightings. Why am I never in the right place at the right time, with camera, of course?

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