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.
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:
- In good light
- In a different time zone
- With a slow runner between them and the bear
- Well fed
- Only as cubs
- Behind bars
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?