In spring it’s a good time to spot bears in Jasper National Park, with the First to emerge usually being the Large Males, followed by solitary females and females with yearlings or two-years old. The last to emerge are female Bear Mothers with new-born cubs.
Spring and fall are prime time for seeing black bears. They are more comfortable around humans than grizzlies, so you are more likely to cross paths with them. Black bears are usually seen in forested areas, in berry patches, along roadsides and even in campgrounds. Black bears are smaller than grizzlies and have a straight, tan-coloured nose. They do not have a hump on their back, like the grizzly bear.
An encounter with a Black Bear mother and Cubs is common in Jasper. In most cases you will find that Black Bear mothers are fairly calm as cub’s instincts to hit the tree tops relieve the mother Bear of stress. If however, you are in an open area with no trees for the Bear cubs to climb, you can expect the mother Bear to become more excited. A mother Black Bear will feel a lot more vulnerable if her cubs have to remain on the ground, and she may focus her attention on you – the threat
Grizzly bears are easy to identify because they have a pronounced nose and a large, muscular hump on their shoulders. Their fur is usually light brown but can vary in colour. Grizzly bears have large territories and they will move to where the best food source is so the chances of seeing one are far less likely than with the black bear. In the spring and fall, grizzlies will descend from alpine areas into valleys where food is more readily available.
An angry Bear is something you are probably never wants to see, so be prepared and respectful in Bear country. A poorly planned, poorly timed or unlucky judgement call around bears may not always offer another chance. That’s why whenever we see wildlife; we always make sure to keep a safe distance. Most of the time I take photos from inside the car, using my tele lens to get a closer look at the subject and still be on a safe distance respecting the animal.