I have seen a Grizzly before. Animal Planet and PBS have shown me the 350-1500 pound omnivores roaming along rivers, coastal areas, mountain meadows and in the tundra on my television screen. PBS warned me that if I encounter the bear, one of North America’s largest land mammals, to keep in mind some of the following tips:
If you encounter a grizzly, do not run.
Avoid direct eye contact.
If the animal makes contact, curl up into a ball on your side, or lie flat on your stomach.
Try not to panic; remain as quiet as possible.
I begin my first day with Grand Teton Lodge Company with this advice in my mind, as the Grand Teton National Park is home to several Grizzlies. One female in particular, known by her tag number “399,” gave birth to triplet cubs in late winter of 2007 that now wander the Park.
Pat Hattaway, Grand Teton National Park’s North District Ranger, explained, “399 raised her cubs near humans. While other bears tend to go high, she remained low, so the bears are seen near the road.”
It isn’t long into my first day at the office before one of 399’s cubs meanders near the road at Oxbow Bend. A few hours as Digital Media Manager and I am already on a bear escapade.
Camera in hand, a co-worker and I hop in a car and cruise the road in search of the cub. A few miles away, we encounter the flashing lights of a National Park Ranger’s vehicle. He has set a perimeter for the bear’s safety.
Sure enough, the Grizzly is hanging out about five yards from the road. The tips of his fur glow with a frosty silver hue, providing a “grizzled” look (which is how the bear gets its name). His long, curled claws dig into the snow patched ground in search of food beneath the surface. At one moment he turns his head towards the car as if to say, “I know I’m a good looking guy, but enough already.”
Rain begins to drop from a dark gray sky and we decide it’s best to head back to Jackson Lake Lodge. I have seen a Grizzly and now one’s seen me.