During June and July we had a pair of grizzlies frequenting the highway to the Beartooths. Mostly they spent their days feeding on the abundant wildflowers lining the roadside. I would see them most days on my way to my nesting areas. For a time they even hung out just below my great gray nest. Then one morning showed up in my aspen grove nesting area. If the light was good I would stop and photograph for a while. All told, this was four to five times and during these sessions, I never really witnessed any problems of human-bear.
When I saw the grizzly on car hood footage on the internet I recognised the background and knew it was our bears. During the episode, I heard a boy say, "He wants the beef jerky". Where they fed?
I was with the bears at the work camp later in the summer as they grazed near the camp. They showed no interest in the dozen or so cars that collected. That's the last time I saw the bears. I heard they eventually made it as far as the Beartooth Lake Campground, then moved up towards the fire tower.
I was heading towards the Beartooths one morning a couple of weeks ago, when a procession of National Forest vehicles, two of which towed bear traps, passed me heading west. The traps were closed with flaps covering the barred doors. I knew these were the Beartooth grizzly pair. Later a newspaper aticle confirmed this and stated the bears had been relocated.
Cindy and I have some history with this grizzly pair. Three years ago we came across a grizzly sow and twin cubs leaving a cow carcass near my aspen nesting area. The next fall we would find tracks of the sow and cubs in the early winter snow. Working for National Geographic with my friend, Drew, we caught the family digging up white bark pine caches on our camera traps. (A photo appeared in National Geographic's April issue on white bark pines.)
This spring the cubs were cut loose by their mother during breeding season. The rest is history. We'll see if the bears re-appear in the future.
Now, a little more.
The pair of three year olds had become roadside bears. Possibly because of their age and fear of running into a large male. They appeared docile and cute as they fed along the highway, viewed by many. I wondered if I had run into them in the woods, even at their young age, especially if they had been fed, could they have been a problem? I think if I yelled they would have run, but you never know. A bear acts one way when it is beside the road and is submissive to the cars and groups of people. Then becomes a completely different animal when stumbled upon one on one in the wilderness. And wilderness is classified as 100 yards off the road.