Friday, December 23, 2011

Bears, Oh My

No lions or tigers, I'm sorry to say.  Almost the first thing we did in Whistler was to go on a "bear viewing tour" led by one Mike Allen, a local self-taught bear researcher.  This involved driving around Whistler Mountain and then Blackcomb Mountain in an SUV, looking for bears, and stopping to take photographs when we found them.

I think there may have been some misunderstanding about the best time to find bears; we found I believe one bear on Whistler Mountain in over an hour of searching; then we drove over to Blackcomb Mountain and found four of them - two hanging around the luge track (Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics)!  Wilderness bears, right.  Nonetheless, it was a very interesting afternoon, Mr. Allen was extremely knowledgeable about bears, and we saw places we'd never ordinarily get to.

This is the best bear photo I got, if not the most handsome bear:

This scruffy soul was foraging around uphill from the luge track - in fact, on the luge track platform.  The photo is sharp because we were only about 20 feet from him; he never even looked at us.

It's harder than you think to photograph bears, especially on an overcast day.  You have to use telephoto, which reduces the light available for the shot, which makes it grainy; and you're pushing the limits of the image stabilization (I refuse to carry a tripod around), so it's also kind of fuzzy.  This one, of the "matriarch of Blackcomb Mountain," came out pretty well:

Mr. Allen said she's lived there over twenty years.  The other good shot I got was this guy, a yearling who was foraging around below the luge track, near the road:

The rest of my bear photos are at my gallery Bears!.


  1. "Whistler"?

    Where did you see these bears?

    Did I miss part of the story?

  2. @Curtis, we were in Whistler, BC and we took a tour of "where the bears are" which involved driving around Whistler Mountain and its nextdoor neighbor, Blackcomb Mountain, looking for bears. Most of the bears we saw were on Blackcomb.

    Whistler was the last stop on our 2011 vacation in British Columbia.

  3. In most cases, bears are THE apex predator.

    Their disappearance from any region is a measure of the loss of wildness. Believe it or not, the East Bay was once a prime habitat for bears. The early "white" inhabitants lost no time in ridding themselves of these nuisances, killing off as many as they could and chasing off the rest. Of course, I wouldn't necessarily want to live in bear country myself. Those who do suffer all kinds of inconveniences. Bears tend to "domesticate" easily, making a problems for people. But humankind has over-extended its range beyond all logic and balance. We think the rest of life just needs to get out of the way while we propagate uncontrollably and use up everything in sight. Poor bears.