Monday, June 22, 2020

Eight Bears in a Day, Part 2 continued

Part 2 continued..........People had started to leave, and we hurried back to our car as others had told us that bear 399 and her four cubs were on the south side of the Snake River and were trying to cross. Turning into the dam parking lot, on the same side as willow flats, we found a parking spot and hurried to the river.
We could see a group of people standing near the gauging station, and as soon as we reached it, we could see the sow, bear 399, feeding in a clearing. Bear 399 is the most photographed grizzly bear ever and at twenty fours years of age had surprised everyone when she emerged from her den with four coys, (a coy is a cub of the year).
Several of her cubs appeared in the tall grass and we did not get any really good images. They all headed downstream and we joined a group of about thirty people all with binoculars and cameras ready. The first cub appeared and then all four.
The mother bear came around the bushes and walked to the river’s edge. Would be lucky enough to see them cross?
She looked at her cubs and we could see her mouth moving. They all looked at her. Pay attention to your mother, and she waded into the stream and begin to swim.
They all watched her as she reached midstream but none entered the water. Turning around she swam back to them.
Our friend Fred later told us, he heard her huffing and even barking at the cubs, trying to encourage them into swimming with her.
One of the cubs entered the water but then waded back to shore. She could not get them to join her and se she climbed out of the water and led them downstream. She was headed to a meander and we could see that the river was narrower, so we walked back to our car.
Driving back to willow flats we drove parking further downstream we waited and hoped that the bears would reappear. A high bank was across from us and we could see that there was a hidden depression. Up popped a cub and then another and another. All four cubs were watching us and then mamma bears huge head appeared!

She led them down to the water before standing up to look at all the people. Deciding it was not safe she first headed downstream before turning around and looking for another crossing further upstream.
The bears went behind some trees and never did cross that day. We had been blessed with seeing eight grizzly bears and watching the hue sow swimming part way across the river, (the next day a photographer posted pictures of the four cubs easily swimming across the river, where mom had been watching their progress).
Later we stopped and took a walk along the Moose Wilson road and saw our first moose of the year, a young bull.
This was a once in a lifetime day, without a doubt our best bear day ever! Clear skies

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