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Alaska 2008
  • Territory: Washington State, British Columbia, Alaska
  • Time: April - August, 5200 miles traveled
  • Vessel: "Teacup", Nordic Tug 37
  • Primary Activity: Wait for the sun to come out.

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This article set is part of a larger work:
Alaska 2002 | Alaska 2003 | Alaska 2004 | Alaska 2005 | Alaska 2006 | Alaska 2007

The Bear Follies

I saw somewhat fewer bears this year than in years past, but they were doing a number of interesting things. In one case, a conspicuously pregnant female bear was trying to secure protection from a male, but the male just couldn't figure out what she wanted and kept chasing her away. This was one of the oddest things I had ever seen among bears. Female bears are not usually pregnant in the summertime, it's very bad timing for the cubs who are normally born in the winter or early spring, in the protection of a snowy den. A female bear that gives birth in the summertime is very likely to lose her cubs, and this bear knew it.

I also saw a rather intense bear fight, between two male bears (of course), followed by ... something I had never seen before. Normally you have to spend some time watching a group of bears before you can sort out which are male and which female. There are some obvious behavioral signs, like the fact that a male bear might trek several hundred miles without once asking for directions, but there are few such giveaways. This year, though, I saw an anatomically correct bear, a bear whose gender could be established at a glance. I had never seen anything like it, and I doubt I ever will again.

From here, the pictures will tell the story:

Very pregnant female bear,
looking for a protector
This male bear wanted nothing to do with her
Bear Fight I: Over a woman, of course
Bear Fight II: Standing up
Bear Fight III: It's a standoff
The "anatomically correct" bear
Classic bear pose
Another classic pose
Southeast I: Taking the cubs for a walk
Southeast II: Cute cubs

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