It was a sunny fall afternoon in British Columbia last year and I was watching bears feeding on salmon carcasses in a deep pool at my field site. In the distance we heard a cub in distress, the mother and two cubs-of-the-year (COY) below in the river were a little disturbed but continued fishing. A while later a yearling (one year old cub) came out of the bush calling out for his mother. As soon as he saw the female with two COY he ran towards them, presumably confusing her for his own mother.
The female with COY acted defensively and chased the young bear away, although the yearling never moved too far and continued to call out. The COY’s were increasingly stressed by the yearling and made moves to leave the river, waiting for the mother to follow. Eventually the family moved away from the confused yearling and up the bank towards my viewing platform. It is worth pointing out that the platform we view from is visible to the bears, they know and are aware of people watching them.
At the same time a female with one yearling came into sight and the lost yearling immediately changed course and headed straight towards them, reunited with his real mother the mood settled.
Below my platform, stood three bears, a female and her two cubs-of-the-year. The cubs needed reassurance and started to try and nurse, pushing at the females sides starting to ‘moan.’ At moments like this the female will usually take her cubs to a thicket of bush, but not this time…
The female came and lay down directly beneath my feet and rolled onto her back instantly the cubs began to ‘chortle,’ a noise I had never heard so close at hand. At a distance the noise can sound like a small motor running but when the bears are only a meter away the noise is everything. For the next few moments the noise became my world and I heard nothing else. My whole body was vibrating with the noise; I was aware of nothing else. I dropped to my knees and pressed record on my camera if only to capture the sound, I then realised that I could film through the cracks in the wooden slats below my feet; this is what I managed to capture, as the bears fed and then fell asleep for a good while below the hide.
All filmed on Canon 7D mk ii with a 70-200 mm f4 l series lens, licensing enquiries should be aimed at firstname.lastname@example.org. All material is copyright kitchinsink 2015 and may not be downloaded or used without permission.