Yesterday, driving home from work, I got a rare treat. I saw a grizzly (brown) bear with her two cubs on the side of the road, not a five minute drive from my house. The bears didn't seem to be bothered about me watching them from the safety of my car and went about their business. They stayed so long I had time to go home, get Richard and Oscar and a long lens, come back and do some more bear watching! The cubs ate, played a bit and slept while the mother grizzly focussed on eating. She only glanced at me a couple of times but quickly dismissed my presence and carried on eating. At one point, she sensed something and got up on her hind legs. Soon after, the cubs perked up as well and stayed closer to their mother.
I discovered a couple of interesting facts about bears after this experience. Grizzly bears are actually sub species of brown bears. They are found inland in North America and don't get as big as coastal bears. They are called grizzly bears because the tips of their fur are often lighter, giving them a "grizzled" appearance. They can also be identified by the hump on their shoulder. Their claws are longer than black bears, up to four inches long and their tracks usually have claw marks, unlike black bear tracks.
Sometimes the drive from work to our home in the wilderness seems long but every once and a while I get a treat like this and it is all worth it. Just the other day I saw a young caribou, over the winter we saw lots of moose, and I even saw a pair of lynx once. It is a privilege to get the occasional small glimpses into the lives of animals we share the earth with. I consider myself very lucky!