Mother’s Day Bears

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.

 

23 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Bears”

  1. That makes me so mad. I don’t understand how people don’t realize they’re harming not helping. My dad’s wife feeds the wildlife at their rural home in Wisconsin. She says that in the winter they’ll die if they don’t get food. She brags about it like she’s taking care of them.

    Those photos of the bears are great. I’d be a little nervous, but it would be cool to see them. I can’t even imagine getting much closer to them than you were, let alone being close enough to hand them food? Eeeks.

    1. It has made me mad as well. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like your Dad’s wife – how does she think they survived before she came along? And worse, what happens to them if she moves? Yikes.

      They are very cool to see, and they are beautiful. They came through the winter in good shape. We got a little nervous as one of them started walking toward us, clearly looking for a handout, but we slowly pulled away. They really look like sort of big goofy dogs who want a treat, but they are also unpredictable and dangerous. Actually, it’s really the humans who are goofy (and stupid) for being so thoughtless.

    1. It is big! 🙂 People do hike or canoe it, but they are very experienced and are prepared to spend quite a bit of time on it. There is some limited short-term camping and day hiking in the northeast corner – that’s where many people go to watch the aurora as it’s a “dark sky preserve.”

  2. As I was reading your observations,I thought right away why the bears were acting that way……….waiting for food. Most of the public lives in cities away from animals.They go to Zoos to look at animals.Low & behold… Zoo’s have coin operated food dispensing machines.The Zoo earns modest amounts from these dispensers but they more importantly give the public the wrong message!

    1. Yes – I figured you would recognise this behaviour. I have to say that I was shocked – people should know better but I get your point. If zoos do it then it must be okay. I went to the Calgary Zoo last summer but there wasn’t any kind of dispensing going on. My reading indicates that it’s more focused on conservation and education. The irony though is that this zoo is supported by a lot of oil money.

        1. I looked that up – there are no dispensing machines at Calgary Zoo. In fact, there’s a whole program around emulating the wild as much as possible since the intention is for some of these animals to be returned to the wild if they can.

          1. glad to hear Lynette! Once a animal becomes accustomed to being feed artificially,It’s very hard to release them successfully.
            They do that with Cranes but the humans have to cover up so the birds do not imprint onto humans.

        1. Could be. Or maybe some zoos just aren’t as conscientious as Calgary. I also found out that it’s supported by tax dollars as well (not just oil money but in Alberta a lot of it is the same anyway) and its programs are linked to the high school science curriculum.

          1. I’m not a big fan of zoos myself.Each animal would normally roam around each day in it’s natural environment but in a zoo they are very restricted.It’s a parallel to what we do…….jail.

    1. There are many of them here in the north but I find it alarming how accustomed to humans this particular group is. The north is quite unpopulated (not many tourists to this park either), so their behaviour tells a tale about human behaviour.

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