Grizzly bear cub twins

2 grizzly bear cubs, twins, cubs of the year, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Hey Folks,

Even though they might only be little, grizzly bear cubs are pretty bold – bold enough to climb on a stick and poke their tongue out at my camera. They know full well, of course, that their mother outweighs me by several hundred pounds, is a coupla yards quicker than my aged legs can carry me :), is quite a bit stronger, has bigger, pointier teeth, sharper, longer claws, and is a little more willing to get in a tussle than I am. Hence, they’re pretty bold.

These cubs were actually not doing so well – only days earlier there had been 3 of them. Their mum either lost one, or the cub was possibly killed by another adult bear, most likely a male. Then, a couple of days after I shot this photo, the sow left these 2 cubs at river’s edge, and wandered a 1/4 mile or so downstream, fishing for Sockeye Salmon. The cubs hung around a bit, then headed off into the forest, where, I presume, they scampered up a spruce tree. At least an hour passed before the sow came sauntering back up river, realized she had no idea where they were, and began looking for them. She couldn’t find them and started calling out for them, then spent another hour or more looking for them, calling and calling, walking up and down the river, across the river, into the forest, out of the forest, all to no avail. I observed from a distance, then thought it might be wise to leave, so I headed off down river.

The next morning I saw the sow and cubs together again, then saw them again the following morning, but the sow only had one cub. She looked somewhat distressed, and I thought maybe she’d either lost the 2nd cub, or it had been killed. The next day she was relaxing on a sandbar with 2 cubs beside her. I didn’t see her again, but heard from some other folks they’d seen her a few days later with only cub again, and she was pretty upset. I’ll guess the grizzly bear cubs in this photo are not going to do too well this winter, if indeed they’re even both still alive at the moment. Their mum just doesn’t have it going on. I know very little about grizzly bears, but enough to know that if you’re going to try to raise your children along a river corridor that has over 70 grizzly bears wandering up and down it, you darn well better have your sh** together, regardless what species you happen to be. There’s a good reason the moose calf mortality rate in the area is 100%.



3 thoughts on “Grizzly bear cub twins

  1. Mark

    Wow, you had some actual light to work with?! 🙂 Seems we had the same thoughts in moving into the cub posts! 🙂 Doesn’t seem like the mom had her act together does it? While we saw some cubs stray once in awhile, it always seemed like they were high tailing it to catch up after they realized how far away they were. I have one shot where two cubs are actually hiding behind mom when another bear approached that really tells the danger these little guys probably are in every day.

    They seem to like playing with them sticks eh?

  2. Carl D Post author

    Hey Folks,


    @Mark; Well, I spent 2 weeks .. so I had some light, and some ‘unlight’, believe me. No, I’ve never seen a sow so nonchalantly leave the cubs – even with other bears right in the area, she’d wander off without even giving the cubs a look. The cubs would kinda look at each other, hang out a bit, then sneak off somewhere – and that’s why the mother had no idea where they were at, I presume. It was interesting to watch how agitated she was when she returned and couldn’t find the cubs. All the bears in the area were clearly aware of her agitation, and when she coughed and huffed, calling for the cubs, any bear in the area immediately paid attention – whereas they’d ignore the sounds of cubs growling and fighting, or even the roars of adult bears seriously competing over food spots.

    They do love the sticks .. I have shots from previous trips of even adults playing with sticks – even, one time, 2 adults playing tug of war with a stick, in the river:

    They’ll play with just about anything. I’m pretty sure the backpack rain cover I lost in the forest is shredded by now.



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