We woke to heavy fog on this morning. Sitting in camp drinking coffee we felt like our chances of finding a wolf were just about nil. Then we heard howling in the distance.
American black bears (Urus americanus) are remarkable animals who exploit a tremendous diversity of habitats across North America, including the temperate rainforests of the west coast. They are the unsung heroes of the Ursidae family.
This spirit bear has not been seen since 2020, when she was picked up on a trial camera. To say we are excited and relieved to know she is alive and well is an extraordinary understatement.
You take what you get with wolves. Most of the time what you get is a lot of waiting and time to contemplate things. If you’re paying attention, there is always something to see. So all the waiting is okay. But when a curious wolf pup appears out of nowhere and trots past, well, that’s another thing entirely.
Life is full of repetitive and mundane tasks. And, occasionally, also encounters like this.
20 years ago, I cut my teeth as a Great Bear Rainforest bear guide running grizzly bear tours in coastal estuaries. Spring on the British Columbia coast is glorious. There is nothing like the sweet fragrance and vibrant greens of spring, mingled with birdsong, snow-capped mountains, and the sight of grizzly bears amidst all.
As the 2019 spirit bear season approached it seemed there was one question on everybody’s mind: would Ma’ah still be with us? Ma’ah is a white bear who is closing in on 20 years old….
I worked as a guide in the Great Bear Rainforest for 14 years before I managed to get a decent photo of a coastal wolf.
Three years is a long time to wait for anything. But finally (finally!) I was able to see the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX film.
This is a photo of an American black bear checking out a remotely triggered camera in the Great Bear Rainforest. Thanks to Paul Nicklen for technical assistance with this one (i.e. teaching this buffoon the basics of how to use and maintain an underwater housing). There were many, many failures while trying to get this one shot. So many failures. Oh, so many failures…
These grizzly bear cubs are playful for a reason: their mother is a formidable salmon hunter.
It is what we had all hoped for. The bear had accepted our presence and was now perched on a rock mid-stream scanning the creek for salmon. Her white fur was wet from an overnight rain and steam rose from her back in the morning sun. It was like a scene from National Geographic television – only this was live.
Zip lines, cameras, grizzlies, salmon and adventure. This is filmmaking in the Great Bear Rainforest. Oh yeah, and giant slugs too…
It was the first day of our spirit bear trip this fall, and we were walking up a small creek in the Great Bear Rainforest. Sunlight filtered through the lichens and mosses dangling from the tree branches; salmon splashed in the stream. This creek is one of the best places on Earth to see a Kermode, or spirit, bear. The only problem was nobody had seen one here this year…
I have teamed up with Marven Robinson of the Gitga’at First Nation to offer two spirit bear watching and photography trips in the Great Bear Rainforest for Sept 2015. After guiding on the coast for 11 years I don’t know of a better way to have intimate encounters with spirit bears. These trips will be something special.