2022-05-08&09 Teton Bear Hunting

Grizzly Bear - Ursus arctos horribilis
There are many magnificent creatures to meet in the Yellowstone-Jackson Hole region. No species gains one’s attention like the Grizzly Bear. We found this sow foraging less than a mile below the Jackson Lake Dam.
Barrow's Goldeneye - Bucephala islandica
Schwabacher Landing is 17 miles north of Jackson Wyoming. Beavers have constructed dams along the Snake River that provide habitat for waterfowl such as this Barrow’s Goldeneye.

Saturday, my friend Joe Ford and I scouted the region north of camp around Moran, Moose, and Coulter Bay. These locations are part of Grand Teton National Park. Always on the lookout for wildlife, Grizzly Bears top the list of desirability for many of the visitors to the region. In particular, bear enthusiasts follow a sow called #399 and her four cubs. When we reached a location on the Snake River called Oxbow Bend, the overwhelming number of parked cars were a sign that bears were about.

The 32-year-old Bear #399 and her cubs draw crowds wherever they make an appearance. During the episodes when I was witness to her wanderings, there were as many as 100 bear enthusiasts there trying for a glimpse. Soon after the crowds gather, the park rangers arrive to haze and disburse the sightseers. I loved those brief moments when I caught sight of the venerable #399 and her four nearly grown cubs, but I didn’t enjoy the crush of the crowds or the experience of being herded by park staff. Some of the staff were courteous, but others were just plain abrasive. I suppose it is the price of chasing such a popular subject.

I’ve heard a theory about Bear #399’s success at raising cubs (more than any other Grizzly on record), suggesting she seeks places where people frequent because the large male bears avoid such places. Therefore, her cubs are less vulnerable to attack. If true, I think that’s pretty amazing!

Bears weren’t the only subjects of our pursuits. Deer, Moose, Elk, Bison were on the “menu”, as well as Fox, Coyote, and avian subjects. Wolves sometimes get spotted in the region, but they are elusive and usually steer clear of humans.

Finding Moose in the region has been as simple as stepping out of the RV at its campsite to find them grazing a few yards away. Scruffy as they are, shedding their winter coats to prepare for the summer ahead, they still are impressive creatures.

On Sunday, our tour of the park carried us over much of the same ground as did our Saturday explorations. After finishing both days, I’d collected images of Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers, Common Ravens, Grizzly Bears, Moose, Mule Deer, Northern Harriers, Osprey, Sandhill Cranes, and Trumpeter Swans.

Monday’s weather turned foul, and we decided to lie low in camp for the day. This gave me the opportunity to sort through the weekend’s images, but Tuesday we hit the road again. That story isn’t ready to be told quite yet!

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