On the weekend, M and I drove through Wood Buffalo National Park on our way to Fort Smith. We saw quite a few bison (frequently mislabelled as buffalo; the park has also retained the old inaccurate name) but lots of bears as well.
They have been out and around for about two to three weeks now and are fully awake.
I was surprised at how tame they are. This bear stayed in the road, unphased, as we carefully maneuvered around him. He looked hopefully at us as we passed.
There were others as well. This one stood up, also unbothered, as we slowed down to take his picture. There was no attempt to flee.
Another beautiful bear was curious enough to start walking towards us. We took the picture and pulled away.
I was dismayed to learn later that the reason why the bears seem so comfortable with people is that they are often being fed. And in a national park no less! Heartbreaking. As the saying goes, “a fed bear is a dead bear.” This park is huge (bigger than Switzerland) and there is limited access by vehicle, so park rangers will try to move bears that become too friendly into the back country. Unfortunately, some of them return and are then euthanized. All because human beings can’t stop being idiots.