Elk and Deer and Bears, Oh My!

We see a lot of wildlife on the trails in Jasper. On a ride this afternoon, my group had a lucky sighting of a mama bear and her cub! She was not terribly concerned about us, and so we all made some noise and eventually she and her cub ambled away.

The horses, for their part, were equally unconcerned about the bears. A lot of people who come on rides expect that the horses would be afraid of bears, but the bears I’ve seen have usually tended to be more afraid of US. A whole group of people on horses looks pretty scary to a bear. Our horses seem to accept bears as just a part of the scenery.

Here’s Bert, actively looking at the bears. He was ready to run at them and scare them off! I held him back, just in case there was another cub somewhere we couldn’t see (always best to be cautious when it comes to bears):


I originally misidentified them as black bears, based on the size of the mama and the black of the cub. The mama was brown, but “black bear” is kind of a misleading name because the black bear actually comes in three different colours: black, cinnamon/brown, and honey. Black bears are also far more commonly seen around our trails. However, after a consultation with my boss, I found out that these two are actually grizzly bears!

It’s a young mama, which explains her smaller size, and apparently grizzly cubs can be black. You can see in the picture below that the mama bear has a wider face than a black bear, as well as that distinctive grizzly hump between her shoulders, which will get bigger as she grows up more.


I am somewhat glad that I didn’t find out she was a grizzly until after, because I probably would have been a lot more scared at the prospect of facing a mama grizzly bear than just a mama black bear! Luckily it all ended well anyway, and we got the bonus of having such an amazing sighting.