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Today will be my final post about Coastal Brown Bears. After today I will post about two additional subjects that I photographed in Alaska, and then it will be back to Arizona’s desert, grasslands, and mountains.
On a previous trip that I made to Alaska five years ago I saw bear cubs with their mothers. That was not the case on this trip. During breeding season the mothers with cubs stay away from the boars. However, we did see a pair of adolescent bears — three year olds — that had been cut loose by their mothers.
Brown Bears mature slowly. At age three, the mothers cut their ties with their offspring, sending them off on their own.
For the young bears the transition from cubs to independence can be difficult. At three years of age they are by no means small but they are far from physically mature, weighing less than 1/2 of their adult weight. They also still have a lot to learn about their environment. They face danger, particularly from boars who have been known to attack and kill young bears whom they regard as interlopers.
Sometimes unrelated young bears partner with others of their age. They hang out together as they search for food, and also for companionship. Such is the case with this pair, two unrelated three-year old bears.
We observed these two together over a period of three days. They seemed to be inseparable. They fed together, played and slept with each other, and were constantly on the lookout for danger in the form of approaching boars.
At this time of year the young bears forage on grass.
Being immature, these youngsters often play with each other. Play usually consists of roughhousing in imitation of the fights that adult bears sometimes engage in.
Like children or puppies, the youngsters often wrestle frenetically for several minutes, then resume foraging or nap.
Watching Coastal Brown bears, young and older, go about the activities of daily life was an extraordinary experience. In my opinion it is tragic that these magnificent animals continue to be actively hunted in parts of the United States and are generally regarded as fearsome and highly dangerous predators. Seeing them as we saw them was a perspective that few have the opportunity to experience. I believe that these animals would be viewed in a very different light if most of us had the opportunity to see what I saw.
Images made with a Canon R5, Canon RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1 IS L zoom lens, M setting (auto ISO), settings varied.