The Grizzlies of Mount McKinley
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Range and Movement

Home Range

My data on the home range of grizzlies pertain chiefly to family groups, mothers and cubs, because they generally can be identified readily throughout the season and from one year to the next (Fig. 14).

Fig. 14. Mother grizzly and yearling crossing a late spring snow patch.

In making identifications there are several helpful family characteristics. The mother may be blackish, chocolate, brown, or light tan (blond). She may have special markings such as a light or dark face and, in the case of blonds, some variation in the dark stripe between the shoulders and along the back. There may be one, two, or three cubs in the family. Moreover, the age of the cubs narrows the possibilities. They may be spring cubs, yearlings, 2-year-olds, and, occasionally, 3-year-olds. Spring cubs may be blackish or brownish and may or may not have a white stripe on one or both sides of the neck; the length and breadth of the white stripe, when present, may vary. The yearling and 2-year-olds also vary in color. When there are two or three cubs in a family, they may all be dark or all blond, or one may be much darker or lighter. The size of the individual cubs, when there are two or three in a family, may differ. The various combinations of these characteristics in a family group usually serve for ready identification. Occasionally, two families on the same range may be similar, especially when each family has only a single cub. Then greater familiarity with the family is necessary for identification.

Sometimes, special characteristics are helpful. For instance, one large male was missing an ear; another old male was permanently lame on a foreleg; a female limped on a hindfoot; two lone bears had severe limps; a few cubs limped, at least for a few weeks; a young bear had a scar below a hip. Many families were so well marked and seen so often that they became familiar to several people who were visiting the park for prolonged periods of time.

In some studies, grizzlies have been marked with ear tassels and had radio transmitters attached to them. Elk in Jackson Hole wear collars of various hues, moose are eartagged, and I have seen trumpeter swans wearing pink plastic collars. Many sensitive people who are sincerely interested in preserving wilderness are opposed to the use of such techniques in an area devoted to esthetics and spiritual values. The observation of tassels in the ears and the knowledge that the bears have been manhandled systematically destroy for many people the wilderness esthetics for an entire region. We might imagine a situation so critical that such intrusive, harmful techniques would be necessary. But in the case of the grizzly in McKinley National Park the added information obtained does not merit the sacrifice of the intangible values for which parks are cherished. In our wilderness parks, research techniques should be in harmony with the spirit of wilderness, even though efficiency and convenience may at times be diminished.

Because much of the country where bears were observed is treeless, frequent sightings were possible. However, they often were hidden in hollows and ravines or obscured by willow brush, but a little patience usually revealed them. A bear taking a nap could be hidden for an hour or two even though it was not far away.

I followed no daily routine in gathering home-range data; most observations were made incidentally in the course of general field work that often involved other species. More sightings of bear families could have been made if their ranges had been visited more frequently or if time had been devoted to looking for them.

The data were secured over a long period. The first notes on home range go back to 1922 and 1923, but most information was obtained after 1950.

A number of the home-range records pertain to the Sable Pass area because it is a favorite range for bears and visibility is good, but many observations were made elsewhere, especially on Igloo Mountain, the Polychrome Pass area, and the country westward to the Toklat River. Some ranges involved two or more of these areas.

A few families were observed over a period of 3 or 4 months but their total range from the time of their spring emergence from the den to their re-entry was not obtained. Bears were denning throughout the area where home-range observations were being made, so perhaps some of them were denning not far from where they were seen most often. One den, dug in July, was occupied later; this suggests that this bear denned in the middle of its summer range. No doubt there is great variation in the total extent of the ranges of bears and in the distance they cover from a denning site to the range they occupy for most of a season.

Many of the families were seen so often in a stretch of country 4 to 6 miles long by 2 or 3 miles wide that it was apparent that they wandered little farther during a period of several weeks. The ranges of all individuals noted were probably larger than indicated by my records. On one occasion a lone bear made a trek of over 20 miles in one day. One family was seen in an area over 18 miles in length. Many of the ranges were long and narrow because bears tend to remain in a valley, but some individuals were known to use two watersheds separated by a high ridge. Most of those seen on the eastern slopes of Igloo Mountain moved regularly over to the Big Creek drainage on the west side of the mountain and did much of their foraging there.

In the early spring, lone bears were observed traveling along ridges and apparently covered much ground. Some observations by William Nancarrow (pers. comm), however, suggest that families remained close to the den for a few weeks after emerging. A female and her two yearlings that he observed were seen daily within 100 to 200 yards of their den between 7 and 22 April.

The effect of seasonal food habits on home ranges varies. Some bears will remain in the same general area throughout the rooting, grazing, and berry-eating seasons. Over most of the park, the foods are sufficiently dispersed and intermingled to permit them to do this. Other bears may shift ranges with the food seasons. Thus the ranges of different bears may coincide for only one seasonal food period. There were families on Sable Pass that arrived at the beginning of the grazing period and moved elsewhere to feed on berries. Other families were in the area through most of the food seasons. Each family had its own movement pattern which, in some cases, also showed variation from year to year.

Weather may have some effect on the movements of bears. On a few occasions when they appeared on Sable Pass for the green forage and found none or very little because of the late season, they moved to lower, adjacent country and did not return. A failure of the berry crop also affected individual home ranges, causing bears to wander more widely.

Home-range data were gathered for a number of families. One mother was seen in 4 successive years with two sets of cubs. Two other mothers were seen followed by a single cub for 4 years. Eight families were seen over a 3-year period, that is, during the period they were followed by a set of cubs. Twenty-seven families were observed during 2 years. These data are shown in Table 5. Some data on home range were obtained from observations of 69 families seen two or more times during a single season.

Table 5. Summary of home-range data for grizzly bear families seen for two or more summers.

FamilyNo. of
PeriodSize of range
(length in miles)

two yearlings3117 June—4 Aug. 19597—8Sable Pass—Igloo Cr.
two 2-year olds918 May—20 Sept. 19606Sable Pass—Igloo Cr.
two spring cubs1513 July—15 Aug. 19617Sable Pass—Igloo Cr.
two yearlings1624 June—25 Aug. 196212Sable Pass—Igloo Cr.
one spring cub2325 May—22 Sept. 19639East Fork—Toklat
one yearling2228 May—20 Sept. 19649East Fork—Toklat
one 2-year old331 June—6 Sept. 196518East Fork—Toklat
one 3-year old330 May—4 June 19662—6Toklat
one spring cub429 June—1 Sept. 19645—6Cathedral Mt.—East Fork
one yearling1517 May—22 Aug. 196510East Fork—Toklat Riv.
one 2-year old911 June—4 July 19663Toklat River
one 3-year old310 June—16 June 19674Toklat River
three spring cubsreliably reported 1938
Polychrome (48 Mile)
three yearlings423 May—30 Sept. 1939
Polychrome (48 Mile)
three 2-year olds164 May—23 Sept. 19408Polychrome (48 Mile)
one spring cub520 June—7 Aug. 1953
no field work 1954
5—6Igloo Cr.—Sable Pass
one 2-year old930 May—22 July 19555—6Igloo Cr. —Sable Pass
two spring cubs3223 May—22 Sept. 1960
not seen 1961
5—6Sable Pass
two 2-year olds128 May 1962
Tattler Cr.
two spring cubs1917 July—17 Sept. 19614Sable Pass
two yearlings272 June—S Sept. 19626Sable Pass—East Fork
two 2-year olds315 June—17 June 19631East Fork
two spring cubs184 June—28 Sept. 19613Igloo Mt.—Tattler Cr.
two yearlings2812 May—17 Sept. 19627Cathedral Ms. —Sable Pass
two 2-year olds1924 May—2 Sept. 19636Cathedral Mt.—Sable Pass
one yearling172 June—21 Sept. 19612Cathedral Mt.—Igloo Mt.
one 2-year old2031 May—11 Sept. 19622Igloo Mt.
one 3-year old230 May—31 May 19632Igloo Mt.
two spring cubs83 July—12 Sept. 19625—6Cathedral Mt. East Fork
two yearlings327 Aug.—25 Sept. 19635Cathedral Mt. East Fork
two 2-year olds230 May—31 May 1964
Igloo Cr.
two spring cubs209 June—22 Sept. 19643Sable Pass
two yearlings1229 May—30 Aug. 19653Sable Pass
two 2-year olds54 June—9 June 19661Tattler Cr.
two spring cubsSeveralJuly—19 Sept. 19223Head of Savage Riv.
two yearlingsSeveral15, 17 etc. July 1923
no field work, 1924
3Head of Savage Riv.
three spring cubs11 Aug. 19404Polychrome Pass
three yearlings18 July 1941
no field work 1942
4East Fork Riv.
one spring cub195 June—9 Oct. 194013Igloo Mt.—Polychrome
one yearling325 May—1 June 1941
no field work 1942
1East Fork River
three spring cubs18 Aug. 1940
4 miles down Toklat Riv.
three yearlings123 June 1941
no field work 1942

4 miles down Toklat Riv.
two yearlings117 May 1947
Polychrome Pass
two 2-year olds214, 17, June 1948
(edge of range)
1Polychrome Pass
one spring cub43—7 July 19481Sable Pass
one yearling124 July 1949
Sable Pass
two yearlings34 Aug.—14 Oct. 1948lIgloo Mt.—Cathedral
two 2-year olds114 May 1949
Igloo Mt.
two yearlingsl11 June 1948
Teklanika Riv.
two 2-year oldsl11 June 1949
Teklanika Riv.
two spring cubs1726 June—23 Sept. 19507Sable Pass
two yearlings928 June—15 Sept. 19516Sable Pass
one yearling79—28 July 1955lSable Pass
one 2-year old1722 May—23 July 19565Sable Pass
two spring cubs92 June—13 July 19554Igloo Creek
two yearlings718—27 May 1956
no field work 1957
2Cathedral Mt.
one yearling210—19 June 1955lSable Pass
one 2-year old39—27 June 19562Sable Pass
three spring cubsl14 July 1955
near Toklat Riv.
three yearlings312—29 June 1956
no field work 1957
two yearlings39 Aug—1 Sept. 19592Cathedral Mt.—Igloo Mt.
two 2-year oldsl23 May 1960
no field work 1958

Cathedral Mt.
two yearlings139 July—10 Aug. 19595Sable Pass
two 2-year olds1230 June—11 Aug. 1960
no field work 1958
8Sable Pass—Polychrome
two yearlings1625 May—9 Aug. 19596Sable Pass
two 2-year oldsl23 May 1960
Sable Pass
two spring cubs428 July—10 Aug. 19593Toklat River
two yearlings226 July—25 Aug. 19601near Toklat Riv.
two spring cubs930 May—12 June 19602Polychrome Pass
two yearlings213—16 May 19612Polychrome Pass
one spring cub611 July—15 Sept. 19602Highway Pass
one yearling36 June—14 Sept. 19611Highway Pass
two spring cubs424 June—2 Sept. 19602Highway Pass
two yearlings229 May—28 July 1961lHighway Pass
one yearling2119 May—21 Sept. 19617Sable Pass
one 2-year old919 May—7 Sept. 19628Sable Pass
one spring cubl29 July 1963
Thorofare Riv.
one yearling213, 23 July 19642Thorofare Riv.
two yearlings217—21 Sept. 19631/2near Teklanika Canyon
two 2-year olds324—30 May 1964lnear Teklanika Canyon
one spring cub2325 May—22 Sept. 196310East F. River—Toklat Riv.
one yearling2228 May—20 Sept. 19649Polychrome—Toklat Riv.
two yearlings717 June—31 July 19665Toklat Riv.
two 2-year olds89 June—16 July 19673Toklat Riv.
one spring cub52 Aug—31 Aug. 19695Igloo Cr.—Sable Pass
one yearling315 June—23 June 19705Igloo Cr.—Sable Pass
one 2-year old162 June—15 Aug. 19696Igloo Cr.—Sable Pass
one 3-year oldl5 June 1970
no field work after 4 July 1970

Igloo Cr.

The information gathered indicates that families tend to occupy the same areas from year to year. Except for the snow-covered, high mountains, the entire park is bear country so there are home ranges of various shapes and sizes over most of the area.

The data on the home ranges of several families and of a few other bears will be summarized to show the nature of the information secured. Locations referred to are noted on Figure 15. Milepost numbers refer to mileage from the McKinley Park railroad station.

Fig. 15. Map of the study area, Mt. McKinley National Park. (click on image for a PDF version)

Three Mothers Seen Over Four-Year Period

Female on Sable Pass: On 17 June 1959, I saw, for the first time on Sable Pass, a brown female with two yearlings. (In 1958 I was not in the park so had no opportunity to see the family when the young were spring cubs.) I saw the mother not only in 1959 but also the following three summers. She was recognized readily because of the deep brown color over most of her body. She behaved as though she was oblivious of humans. One of the yearlings was dark brown like the mother and a little larger than the other cub who was straw-colored or blond. The blond cub was a female and seemed to have a rather pointed muzzle. At first, I assumed that the brown cub was a male, but as it grew older it also appeared to be a female; however, I never ascertained its sex. The muzzle of the brown cub was a little heavy; the facial line was rather straight, creating a profile sufficiently distinctive to cause a friend to refer to the cub as "profile." The blond cub was always the more active and had a quick step; she always strayed farther from the mother and moved about a great deal as she fed. The brown yearling seemed somewhat phlegmatic and a follower. During the four summers that I watched the cubs, these individual behavior traits prevailed. (I observed the cubs three summers after they separated from the mother).

In 1959, the family was seen on Sable Pass on 31 days between 17 June and 4 August. It ranged over an area, so far as my observations indicate, 7 or 8 miles in length and 2 miles wide. On some days the family moved less than one-half mile, but on one occasion I saw them make a 2-mile trek without stopping, moving away from the vicinity of a large male grizzly. This family came to Sable Pass at the start of the grass and herb season and departed early in the berry season. (Some families found berries and roots in the Sable Pass area.) I never determined where this mother fed on roots in the spring or where she spent the berry season, but one year I saw her, a few weeks after she had left Sable Pass, about 5 miles to the north near lower Igloo Creek. In 1959, the family left Sable Pass on 4 August, walked northward on a high contour paralleling Igloo Creek for about 2 miles, and was last seen going over a ridge toward Big Creek. The family had moved down into lower country for the berry season, and was not seen again until the following year.

In 1960, I first saw the family on 18 May, a month earlier than the previous year, as they emerged from a canyon of Cathedral Mountain. I discovered the family on the move at Milepost 35-1/2. During the day, they crossed Igloo Creek and fed, then continued on to Milepost 41, taking a shortcut over two sizeable ridges.

On 20 May, 2 days later, the two 2-year-old cubs were seen about 3 miles farther west on the west side of East Fork River. The mother had deserted them apparently to consort with a male. (See Mother—Cub Separation.) The movements of the cubs in 1960 and the following 2 years will be discussed separately, but it may be stated here that they remained in the Sable Pass—East Fork area. The mother was seen again on 27 May, when she apparently had finished breeding. She was seen rather infrequently during the summer, which suggests that she wandered more widely when alone than she had the previous summer with the cubs. During the summer, she was seen on 18, 27 May, 22, 27, 28 June, 29, 30 July, 22 August, and 20 September. In 1960 she came to Sable Pass a month or more earlier than in other years and departed about 6 weeks later. With the exception of the 18 May sighting, she was seen always on Sable Pass over an area about 4 miles long and a mile across.

On 13 July, 1961, this female appeared on Sable Pass with two spring cubs. Between then and 29 July she was seen nine times on the pass. With the advent of the berry season, she moved a mile down Igloo Creek where she and her cubs were seen feeding on berries 6 days between 6 and 15 August. She then disappeared, apparently moving down country to the north as she had done in 1959. Her total range during the period she was observed was about 7 miles long and at least 2 miles wide.

The female and her two yearlings were first seen on Sable Pass on 24 June in 1962. She was observed 15 times between 24 June and 31 July at rather regular intervals in a narrow strip 4 miles long. On 31 July she moved down Igloo Creek 2 miles. As in 2 of the 3 previous years, she left Sable Pass near the beginning of the berry season. On 25 August I saw her about 5 miles north of Sable Pass, at a caribou carcass. She was observed in a stretch of country about 12 miles long. In 1963 I did not see the family (Fig. 16).

Fig. 16. Approximate home ranges for two females recognized for periods of 4 years. Number 1 is a female seen initially with two yearlings in 1959 (see page 36). Number 2 is a female with a single spring cub in 1963 (see page 45).

Thus we had a female returning to Sable Pass for 4 successive years. She seemed to have a rather definite pattern in her movements. Three of the 4 years she foraged in the pass only during the midsummer season. Other bears came early and stayed later, just as she did in 1960. It was not known where she denned, so the size of her total range was not known.

Mother and Cub Four Years on Same Range: In 1963, a dark-brown mother and a spring cub often were seen ranging from East Fork River to Toklat River, in an area about 9 miles long and 3 or 4 miles wide. I saw the family 23 times between 25 May and 22 September, and other observers were constantly reporting them. Generally, they were seen in a stretch of country about 5 miles long and a mile or two wide. On 23 July I watched the family make a 3-mile trek, traveling steadily except for brief stops for ground squirrels or a few bites of green food. It appeared that the female had decided to leave the area because she disappeared northward, but she returned later to her usual range. On 7 September I saw the family traveling steadily up the east branch of the Toklat River on a high contour of Divide Mountain as though it was going places. Perhaps the mother was looking for berries which were scarce that year. After going about 2 miles, she crossed the broad river bar and started back on the opposite side of the river. The bears made a long gallop to get away from the vicinity of a lone bear and then settled down to a rapid walk. The cub lagged 300 yards behind and did not catch up until the mother lay down and waited for it.

I saw the family 22 times on the same range at rather regular intervals between 28 May and 29 September 1964, the last day I visited its range.

The family was first seen on 1 June 1965. On 3 June it moved 3 miles farther east than I had ever seen it. Hunting and chasing calf caribou was the cause of this extension of range. The following day it was back in its usual haunts. The family was seen 33 times between 1 June and 6 September. On the latter date it moved 6 miles west of the most westward point I had seen it, moving steadily and held up by only a few stops to excavate ground-squirrel holes. For the last mile that it was in view, it traveled steadily and disappeared north of Slide Lake. For most of the summer the family covered the same range as the previous 2 years, but the 3 June eastward movement and the 6 September westward trek increased the known extent of its range to about 18 miles.

I discovered the family digging roots along Toklat River on 30 May 1966. It also was seen there on 3 and 4 June. On 4 June photographers driving unhurriedly in a car to where the bears were going under a bridge gave them a real scare, causing them to hurry northward. I did not see them again but twice there were reports of a family 4 or 5 miles east of Toklat River, which may have been these same bears (Fig. 17).

Fig. 17. The dark brown female and her cub, now 3 years old and almost as big as the mother, received a scare from photographers and galloped off up the Toklat River.

This family remained on the same range through much of the rooting, grazing, and berry seasons. In 1965 the mother probably left the range earlier than usual because of the scarcity of berries.

A Family Shifts Range: A blond mother and her spring cub were seen four times from 29 June to 1 September 1964, between the south tip of Cathedral Mountain and the upper reaches of East Fork River, a distance of 5 or 6 miles.

The family was seen 15 times from 17 May to 19 July 1965, between East Fork River and Toklat River. The west boundary of the 1964 range had become the east boundary of the 1965 range. On 22 August I watched the family travel 5 miles westward from Toklat River, a move taking it beyond the summer range. The family was not seen again in 1965. Apparently, the bears were seeking berries which were scarce that year.

The family was seen nine times between 11 June and 4 July, 1966 along Toklat River within the area occupied during most of 1965. During 1965, 1966, and 1967, the family occupied a range adjacent to its 1964 range. The total range occupied in the 4-year period was a minimum of about 22 miles in length.

In June 1967 this female and her 3-year-old cub were sighted three times in the area where they were seen in 1965 and 1966. The female was seen breeding with a large male on 10 June, and he subsequently followed the cub, apparently a female, up the river and out of sight. Six days later, the mother and 3-year-old were seen together for the last time (Fig. 18).

Fig. 18. Approximate observed home range of a blond female with one spring cub in 1964 seen the following 3 years (see page 46).

Eight Families Seen Over Three-Year Period

Mother with Triplets on Range for Prolonged Period: In 1939 a female and three yearlings ranged in the Polychrome Pass Area throughout the summer. I saw them on only four occasions but they were seen frequently by members of a road construction crew camped at Milepost 48. The family was visiting the nearby camp garbage dump. I saw the bears a month before camp was set up and a month after it was abandoned (23 May to 30 September). The camp foreman, a reliable observer, reported that the family had been seen frequently in the same area in 1938 when the mother was followed by three spring cubs. The family was well known. In 1940 when the cubs were 2-year-olds, I observed the family in the same general area on 16 occasions from 4 May to 23 September. During these 3 years (1938-40), most of their time out of the den was spent in an area about 8 x 2 miles. Usually, their travels were much more circumscribed. Their wanderings throughout the various food periods were confined to the same general area. The seasonal foods were intermingled in this range. When the garbage dump was in use, the movements of the bears undoubtedly were affected by it, and they may have been indirectly affected when it was not in use. But their travels and size of range were similar to families not affected by garbage. The three cubs apparently separated from the mother in autumn 1940. They were not seen the following year when they were 3 years old, and the mother, if seen, was not recognized.

Dark Mother and Single Cub: A dark mother with a spring cub were observed five times along Igloo Creek and on Sable Pass from 20 June to 7 August 1953. When first seen, on 20 June, they were traveling steadily up Igloo Creek, apparently on their way to Sable Pass from farther north. I was not in the park in 1954 when the cub was a yearling. Between 30 May and 22 July 1955 I saw the mother with her single cub, now 2 years old, nine times in the same general area. I left the park a week after my last sighting of this family. The family ranged over an area 5 or 6 miles in length during both years.

Dark Mother Shifts Range: A dark mother with two blackish spring cubs were seen 32 times from 23 May to 22 September 1960 in the Sable Pass area. She resembled a female that had mated in 1959 on the pass. Her known range was 5 or 6 miles in diameter. The frequent sightings by me and by others indicated that she did not wander much beyond this area. In 1961 the family was not seen. On 28 May 1962 I saw a dark mother with two dark, 2-year-old cubs that appeared to be this family, moving up Tattler Creek (near Sable Pass) toward Big Creek. Apparently, there had been a shift in the range after 1959, probably into the adjacent Big Creek drainage.

Blond Mother on Sable Pass for Extended Periods: A large blond female with two spring cubs were first noted on 17 July, 1961 on Sable Pass. Between 17 July and 17 September, the family was seen on this pass 19 times at rather regular intervals in an area about 4 miles across.

I saw the family digging roots sporadically from 2 to 21 June 1962 on the East Fork River bar along the western edge of Sable Pass. During the grass-eating period, mid-June to about the end of July, the bears were seen on adjacent Sable Pass, and during the berry season they moved over the same area and often were down on the river bar feeding on buffaloberry. Between 2 June and 5 September they were seen 27 times in an area about 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.

The family was seen on the bars of East Fork River digging roots on 15 to 17 June, 1963. This is where it had been seen in early summer 1962. The family was not seen again during the summer. It had spent two full summers on Sable Pass and had put in a 3-day appearance the third summer (so far as I could observe). It is possible that the female left to breed, thus altering home-range habits for the year. But they may also have shifted their range slightly, enough to keep them hidden from me.

Family Ranging between Igloo Mt. and Sable Pass: A blond female with 2 spring cubs was seen 18 times at regular intervals, between 4 June and 28 September, 1961 from Igloo Mountain to the base of Sable Pass (Tattler Creek) within an area about 3 miles in length. How much farther the family traveled or in what direction was not determined, but it was obviously moving about in a circumscribed area during the summer and fall.

This family was seen on 12, 14, and 15 May 1962 on Cathedral Mountain, across from Igloo Mountain. Between 12 May and 17 September the family was seen on 28 days. It ranged from the north end of Cathedral Mountain over the top of Sable Pass, in an area about 7 miles long and a maximum of about 2 miles wide. In 1962 the range had been extended to include part of the Sable Pass area.

In 1963 the family was first seen on 24 May near the north end of Cathedral Mountain where it had first been seen the year before. Both years the family fed on roots in this area. Later it moved to Sable Pass. During the period from 24 May to 2 September I saw the family at fairly regular intervals on 19 occasions, and it was reported on a few additional days by other observers. During these 3 years (1961-63) this family was known to range over the same general area for 3 or 4 months, and very likely was present before and after the periods reported here.

Cub Still with Mother When Three Years Old: I saw a blond mother with a very blond yearling on 17 occasions from 2 June to 21 September 1961. They were seen first in the spring near the north end of Cathedral Mountain where they spent a few days digging roots. The rest of the summer they generally were seen on Igloo Mountain and spent most of their time on the Big Creek side. In the fall they were last seen on 21 September near the north end of Cathedral Mountain moving toward Teklanika River. All observations were made in an area about 2 miles in diameter. The extent of their movements in the Big Creek watershed was not learned.

Between 31 May and 11 September 1962 the family was seen 20 times on Igloo Mountain. The movements were similar to those of the preceding year. Several times they were observed hurrying to the Big Creek side of Igloo Mountain. For example, on 11 August the mother and her 2-year-old were feeding on buffaloberry on the southeastern slope of Igloo. Later, the cub climbed a short distance and lay resting on a patch of grass. When the mother approached, he galloped ahead up the slope, continuing over one side ridge after another, sometimes returning to the top of a ridge to see if the lagging mother was following. She kept coming at a fast walk and occasionally broke into a lope. Sometimes she stopped to feed briefly on berries. Thus they traveled for 1 hour and 10 minutes before going over the top into Big Creek drainage. Three days later there was practically a repeat performance. The far side of the mountain seemed to be home to the cub.

On 30 and 31 May 1963, when the cub was 3 years old, the family was seen near the north end of Cathedral Mountain. Later the cub was seen alone. It is likely that the mother had deserted the cub so she could breed.

Blond Female with Two Darker Cubs: Between 3 July and 12 September 1962 a blond female with two dark, spring cubs were seen eight times. They ranged from the south end of Cathedral Mountain to the head of East Fork River, a distance of 5 or 6 miles. The family was seen three times between 27 August and 25 September 1963, from East Fork River to the south end of Cathedral Mountain, a distance of about 5 miles, and on 30 and 31 May 1964 the family was observed along Igloo Creek. Total range, according to my observations, was about 8 miles. This family apparently ranged chiefly toward the heads of Igloo Creek and East Fork River, where it usually would be out of view.

Late Spring Affecting Range of One Family: A dark mother with two spring cubs were seen 20 times in the Sable Pass area, from 9 June to 22 September 1964 (last day I was in the field). Between 29 May and 30 August 1965 the family was seen in the same area 12 times. Both years, according to my observations, the maximum extent of the range was about 5 miles. Most sightings were in an area 2 miles in diameter. This family was recognized easily because of the unusually wide, white collar of one of the cubs. The family was seen at Tattler Creek, within the area occupied the previous summer, on 5 days between 4 and 9 June 1966. Available grazing in the Sable Pass area in 1966 was unusually late because of the deep winter snow. This apparently discouraged bears and caused them to seek forage elsewhere that year.

Families Seen in Two Successive Years or in One Year Only

Home-range data were gathered on 27 families for two of the usual three summers that the cubs are with the mother. For 15 of the families it was not possible to get information for all 3 years because of my absence from the field in the year that the cubs were either spring cubs, yearlings, or 2-year-olds. In five cases the families were seen only when they were at one edge of their home range, which was chiefly beyond my usual travels; others were recorded in areas seldom visited or where the country was wooded and broken. Consequently, sparse data were to be expected for these families. In addition, my records indicate that 164 families were seen during only a single year. Of these, 69 were seen two or more times, but many of these observations were too fragmentary to warrant consideration here.

Home-range data for a few of the 27 families seen in 2 successive years, along with a few of the 69 families seen two or more times in a single year, will be summarized briefly.

Families Seen at Edge of Home Range: In some areas I saw some bear families that obviously were on the edge of their home range. Consequently, these data give little information on the extent of their wanderings but supplement the data showing that grizzlies have definite home ranges.

On 18 June 1939 I spent a memorable day watching wolves and caribou (the latter in migration) from a strategic point on a slope of Cathedral Mountain. I had a superb view of the fork in the Teklanika Valley. I discovered a mother with three spring cubs on the far side of the river and watched them during the day as they foraged. On the following day the family was seen again, this time at close range, for we met on the brow of a rise. The mother was so close I could see the patient expression on her face, as though she were waiting for the traffic to turn aside, which it did. She had moved a little over a mile from where she had been seen last on the previous day. On 20 June I did not see the family and after that date I was seldom in the area. On 8 August the family was discovered digging for a ground squirrel on the west slope of Cathedral Mountain, about 2 miles from where I had seen it in June. The squirrel captured, the family moved back toward the Teklanika River which apparently was the center of its range.

Another family that was seen several times on the west slope of Cathedral Mountain also appeared to be on the west edge of its range. The mother and two spring cubs were seen 10 times between 2 June and 13 July 1955 along a 3-mile stretch on the west side of Cathedral Mountain. When last seen, they were headed for the Teklanika River valley on the east side of the mountain. These bears were observed digging roots on the west slope of Cathedral Mountain seven times between 18 and 27 May 1956. On 27 May they moved around the north end of Cathedral Mountain toward the Teklanika River where they had gone the previous year, and were not seen again. (I was absent from the park in 1957.)

Several families seen on the southeastern slope of Igloo Mountain appeared to spend most of their time in the Big Creek drainage on the west side of the mountain.

On 22 June 1956 a blond mother and her blond yearling fed about 200 yards above Igloo Creek. When the mother became aware of me, she started up the slope of Igloo Mountain, the yearling moving out ahead, leading the way. High on the slope in the shale they passed close to mountain sheep that had moved to one side and stood watching. The bears paid them little attention, concentrated on leaving the country, and disappeared over the skyline headed for the Big Creek side. On 5 July the family was foraging high on the slope and, on seeing me, again hurried over the high ridge. This family was seen nine times in this area between 31 May and 23 August.

Also in 1956, another family, a rather blondish female with a dark yearling that ranged chiefly in Big Creek, occasionally was seen on Igloo Mountain. The family was seen six times between 15 June and 7 September. Both of these families were missed in 1955 when the young were spring cubs, and I had no opportunity to see the 2-year-olds because of my absence from the park in 1957.

On 9 August and 2 and 4 September 1964, a mother and two spring cubs were seen on Igloo Mountain. Their range was chiefly in Big Creek but they visited the east slopes of Igloo Mountain in search of berries. Some bears came over from Big Creek quite often, some seldom, and some perhaps not at all. The southeast slope was the edge of the range for most bears seen there, but for some this slope fitted into a different home-range pattern, and was the northern edge of a range that extended up Igloo Creek to Sable Pass.

Another section of the park where families obviously were seen at one edge of their range was the Polychrome Pass area. Here, the home-range pattern of some families was such that its main part was to the north of the road where they were soon hidden by the broken topography. From 9 to 21 June 1962, a mother and three spring cubs were seen three times north of the road on south-facing slopes, seeking the early green grass and herbs. In July they were reported on a few occasions a mile or two farther north. Between 12 and 27 August the family was seen four times on the flats to the south of the road where they had come to feed on buffaloberry. The blueberry and crowberry crops were so poor that bears were wandering widely in search of berries. Other families also put in an appearance on the flat to feed on buffaloberry. A mother and two spring cubs were seen there on 22 and 27 August, and a mother and a yearling, on 21 and 22 August. They apparently had come from the country to the north. These families were seen only during this one year.

A dark female and two blackish spring cubs were seen in the Polychrome Pass area nine times between 30 May and 12 June, 1960, in an area about one-half mile across. They were grazing the new growth of grass and herbs. On 12 August I saw them about 2 miles to the east. They were wary and hurried northward over a ridge. This same family was on Polychrome Pass on 13 and 16 May, 1961, in an area about 2 miles across. They were still ranging to the north. The family was not seen in 1962 which is not surprising because my observations the previous 2 years obviously were made on the edge of their range.

Families Traveling from One Seasonal Range to Another: A female and three yearlings were seen on a flat on the east side of Thorofare River on 31 May 1959. The three cubs frolicked and galloped at times, a little ahead of the mother. They were moving southward. On 30 August this family again was discovered at the base of Mount Eielson, about 2 miles from where they had been seen in May. Three or 4 inches of snow lay on the ground. The mother was digging ground squirrels, her cubs huddled about 100 yards from her, hidden by a growth of willows. Once she stopped digging, looked around, and dashed toward the cubs. She sniffed them as though to reassure herself of their identity and then returned to her digging. A few minutes later the cubs began to gallop westward across the high bench along the base of the slope. When a quarter mile from the female, she suddenly noticed them going away and followed at a lope. They all galloped for almost a mile, the cubs frolicking and the mother hurrying to overtake them. She caught up to one of them and later they all came together at a prospector's abandoned cabin which the two leading cubs had stopped to investigate. Again the cubs galloped forward and left the mother far behind, digging. Later, she galloped after them until I lost sight of them in the rough country over toward Muldrow Glacier. The cubs had much to do with the course of travel. My records may have been inadequate, but it appeared that both in spring and in autumn I had seen these bears as they were shifting from one seasonal range to another. On 16 September 1960, three bears, all the same size, were reported about 2 miles from where the three yearlings had last been seen in 1959. On 19 September I saw what seemed to be the same bears about 2 miles farther west from where they had been seen on 16 September. They appeared to be 2-year-olds and were possibly the three yearlings seen in 1959.

On 24 June, 1960 a mother with two spring cubs were seen at Highway Pass, traveling eastward toward the Toklat River. They seemed to be on their way toward the head of the Toklat River. On 30 August and 1 September, the family was feeding a mile east of Highway Pass and on 2 September it had moved westward over the pass. The family had been seen passing eastward in June and back westward in the fall. On 29 May 1961, the family again was seen on the east side of Highway Pass and was not seen again until 28 July when it showed up on the same pass. It appeared that this family was only observed in transit from the denning area to midsummer range, and again on its return.

On 4 and 11 August 1948 a female and two yearlings were seen on Igloo Mountain (southeast slope). Their range apparently centered on Big Creek on the west side of the mountain. On 14 October the family was seen moving to the east, away from the mountain. It apparently was leaving its summer—autumn range and going toward its denning site. In 1949 the family returned early to its summer range. The mother and her 2-year-olds were seen on 14 May feeding on roots and berries on the southeast slope of Igloo Mountain as they crossed snowfields on their way to the Big Creek side. I had failed to see the mother when she was followed by her spring cubs. The south slope of Igloo Mountain seemed to be one edge of her summer range.

Family Shifting Range from One Year to Another: A few observations indicated that a family had shifted its home range at least a few miles. Because there is so much joint occupation and overlapping of ranges, one would expect much more shifting of ranges than was observed. Yet there apparently is a strong tendency for bears to use the same ranges year after year, the ones with which they are thoroughly familiar, but there obviously are minor variations through the years, and a shift to adjacent terrain probably is not rare.

A rather dark female with a dark yearling cub were seen 21 times from 19 May to 21 September 1961 in an area roughly 7 miles across and centering on Sable Pass. The family had not been seen in 1960 when the mother was followed by spring cubs. In 1962 the family was seen 10 times in the Sable Pass area from 19 May to 12 September, over an area 7 miles in diameter. Thus it was obvious that the year the mother was followed by her spring cub she occupied a range different from the one used the following 2 years.

Between 25 June and 26 August 1961, a blond mother and two 2-year-old cubs were seen 26 times on Sable Pass in an area about 4 miles across. The cubs had separated from the mother on 26 August. This family escaped my observation the 2 previous years, so apparently there had been a shift of range during the third summer that the cubs were with the mother.

A mother and her spring cub were seen 19 times during the summer and fall months of 1940—from 5 June to 9 October. When last seen, they were on Sable Pass wading in snow a foot deep. Their range centered on Sable Pass but they wandered west of East Fork River at least once and moved down Igloo Creek to Igloo Mountain. On 1 August I saw them feeding on berries along Igloo Creek for a distance of over 2 miles to the slopes of Igloo Mountain. The range over which they were seen was about 13 miles. On 25 May 1941 I saw the family on the bars of East Fork River. I remained in the park until August but did not see the family again so it seems the mother made a definite shift in her home range in 1941 (I was absent from the park in 1942).

Families Seen in Same Area Two Successive Years: A dark blond female with two yearlings were observed seven times from 17 June to 31 July 1966, on the east and west branches of the Toklat River, in an area extending 4 or 5 miles. This may have been the same female seen the previous year with two spring cubs at the eastern edge of the 1966 range, but positive identification was not made. During most of June, and again on 16 July, 1967 this family was seen eight times in the eastern half of their 1966 range. The range of this family probably was greater than that observed by about 5 miles, because many sightings were far south of the road, and on several occasions they moved out of sight farther south.

On 2 August 1969 a light-colored female with one spring cub were seen on Igloo Mountain. They remained in this area until 6 August. When next seen, on 25 August, they were at Tattler Creek and on 31 August they were near Igloo Creek at the east side of Sable Pass. This family moved nearly 5 miles during the month. Again in 1970, this family was first spotted on Igloo Mountain on 15 June and later on 19 June. Four days later it had moved to Sable Pass, but was not seen thereafter (I left the park early in 1970, my last summer observing bears.)

Another blond female with a 2-year-old cub spent most of summer 1969, from 2 June to 15 August, between Sable Pass and Igloo Mountain, an area 6 miles in length. They were seen eight times near the east end of Sable Pass during June and the first half of July. On 28 July and thereafter, they were seen eight times from Milepost 34 to Milepost 36, just east of Igloo Mountain. On 5 June 1970 the family was reported at Milepost 35 still together.

Some Additional Families Seen in an Area for Two or Three Months: The mother and one of three spring cubs (two of the cubs killed by another mother 10 July) were seen on Sable Pass 28 times at short intervals from 15 June to 21 September 1950. Their total wanderings during this period appeared to be confined to an area about 4 miles long by 2 miles wide. This family was not seen in 1951. Either it shifted its home range or the mother had lost her remaining cub.

A mother and two spring cubs were seen on Sable Pass 17 times between 26 June and 23 September 1950. Their observed range was about 7 miles by 2-1/2 miles. This was the mother that killed two of the cubs belonging to the mother mentioned above. The family was seen in the same area nine times between 28 June and 15 September 1951. (I was absent from the park when the cubs were 2-year-olds.)

Between 11 July and 15 September 1960 a mother and a spring cub were seen six times in an area about 2 miles long at Highway Pass. Others also reported the family in the area during the summer. The family also was seen in the area on 6 June and 2 and 14 September 1961. The country was rough and broken and I seldom visited it, so that many sightings could not be expected. Apparently, the family was ranging in the same vicinity both summers. It was not seen in 1962.

A mother with two yearlings, seen in 1959, seemed more mobile than most families. I saw this group 14 times between 30 May and 31 August. On 30 May it was busily occupied digging roots on Polychrome Pass. The following day I saw it traveling on Sable Pass, 6 miles from where it had been feeding on Polychrome Pass. A few days later it had moved 2 miles to Tattler Creek to dig roots. In August it was seen near the East Fork River on two occasions. Thus it ranged over an area about 10 by 5 miles. I was not in the park when the cubs were spring cubs. The family was not seen in 1960 when the cubs were 2-year-olds.

During the summer of 1969, four families were observed repeatedly throughout the summer within a definite, fairly localized area. A female with two yearlings were seen 19 times from 28 May to 18 August on the west branch of East Fork River in an area about 3 miles long and 2 to 3 miles wide. They apparently did not stray much, if at all, from this vicinity throughout the period of observation.

A female with two spring cubs, one of which was lost in early June, spent all summer (26 May to 1 September) in an area centered on Sable Pass where 21 of the 44 sightings occurred. The family was spotted first on the slopes of Cathedral Mountain, and after moving to Sable Pass on 11 June, it returned to Cathedral on three occasions. In the middle of August the female and one remaining cub moved west to the bar of East Fork River and remained there for the rest of the summer. The extent of this summer range was at least 7 miles long.

Another family, female and one yearling, also spent the major part of the summer on Sable Pass in 1969. Between 29 May and 29 August the family was seen 32 times, 25 of these observations on Sable Pass. The family spent a few days on the East Fork River bar in early June and again in August, and twice in July moved down Igloo Creek about a mile. The length of the area known to be used during the summer was about 5 miles, but most of June and July were spent within an area of 1 or 2 square miles on Sable Pass.

A fourth female, followed by two spring cubs, was seen 22 times, from 9 June to 1 September, in an area about 9 miles long between Highway and Thorofare passes. The family did not remain long at any spot, but ranged widely back and forth over its summer range throughout the period it was observed.

None of these families was identified with certainty in 1970 when I was in the park for only the month of June, but single sightings of families that I and others made probably included at least two of them.

Home Range of Males

Adult males wander widely, especially during the breeding season when they are seeking mates. One day a male was seen in the morning traveling steadily up Igloo Creek. When I saw him in the late evening, he was traveling steadily down East Fork River, going out of sight around a bend. Where he had gone in the Sable Pass area I do not know but, in a direct line over the pass, he had covered 7 or 8 miles. This male was not seen again.

On 13 June 1959 a crippled male appeared on Sable Pass. Between 20 June and 10 July he kept company with two females, mostly in an area a mile or two across. After 10 July, he was alone and fed in the general vicinity until 26 July, the last day I saw him in 1959. Reliable observers stated that they had seen this male in the area in 1958. During 1960, 1961, and 1962 this male was not seen. But from 11 to 17 June 1963 he kept company with a female on East Fork River and part way up Sable Pass. After this date, he disappeared. On 7 June 1965 he was observed on East Fork River, where he had been seen in 1963. He was seen in 4 different years over a span of eight summers. His range was wide enough so that he escaped being seen during 4 of the years he was known to be active.

In his notes Olaus J. Murie tells about the wanderings of a male grizzly whose tracks he followed in the snow on 26 September 1921. Olaus was near Circle, Alaska, observing caribou. He came upon a grizzly track and followed it over the hill to a caribou that had been shot some time before: "He [the grizzly] had carried the meat down the hill into the woods, returned up the hill, then wandered westward and turned down in the woods again."

The following day Olaus again followed the track which was partly snowed over.

It led me a long chase. First it went down the hill into Smith Creek where he had walked in the water for about 100 yards, then up the opposite hill through thick timber and willows, over the bare ridge, then down into the next creek bottom. Here he had walked in the water about 300 yards upstream. The tracks led up to the head of the stream, through a mass of willows and small spruce, over a low saddle and down the other slope. He had angled off on to a ridge and followed the bare ridge toward a mountain, then down into another wooded creek slope. Here he finally entered a thick growth of spruce and I noticed he wandered back and forth and circled around and I found two places where he had dug in the moss a little. I went very carefully then, but presently I came to his bed, from which he had just fled! He had scraped out a hollow in the ground over a foot deep, and there he had been lying. He had become very frightened, for the tracks showed that he ran in long leaps, knocking over rotten stumps and small spruces as he went. He apparently injured a toe of the right hind foot, as indicated by an occasional blood spot. He fled in the direction of my camp, which was fortunate, as it was late and I had all I could do to reach it before dark. As he ran, the bear kept to the timber and I did not get a glimpse of him. I finally left the trail and went to the camp. The hind track measured 10-1/2 inches, including claws, and the front track was 7 inches wide. Altogether the bear had travelled 6 or 7 miles in his wanderings (Murie's notes 1921).

Home Range of Lone Bears

Various lone bears were observed and identified over periods of 1 or 2 months, but for longer periods identification usually was uncertain. Bears, if they take the notion, may wander far in a short time. A bear that visited various camps was known to move over 20 miles in one day. A young bear, crippled on a front foot, was seen on 2 successive days and had traveled 6 or 7 miles when seen the second time.

On 30 August 1959 at Milepost 67 I saw a small bear, perhaps a 3-year-old, in a new cream-colored coat. Its face was brown, its legs blackish. This is by far the lightest colored grizzly I ever saw. It had the appearance of a female. On 4 June 1960 I saw this same bear feeding on a carcass of calf caribou on Highway Pass (about Milepost 57). It was seen on Highway Pass again on 19 June, and at Milepost 56 on 5 and 22 August. In 1961 it was seen on Highway Pass on 6 and 10 July, and at Milepost 66 on 17 August. This well-marked bear was seen over an area about 11 miles across between 30 August 1959 and 17 August 1961.

Home Range of Twin Cubs

When cubs leave their mothers and wander about on their own, I expect there could be either considerable dispersal or the cubs might continue their wanderings in the pattern of their mother with whom they had traveled for two full summers and part of a third. Data were collected on one pair of cubs over a period of three summers after they had separated from their mother. Their movements, so far as is known, followed the pattern of their mother.

In 1959 the two cubs were yearlings and followed the mother closely. The family was seen 31 times in the Sable Pass area between 17 June and 2 August, in an area about 6 miles across. In 1960 mother and cubs made their first appearance on 18 May. Two days later the cubs were alone. They spent the summer of 1960 in the Sable Pass area, covering about the same stretch of country as they had the previous summer. One or both bears were seen on 53 days in 1960, between 20 May, when they were first seen alone, and 26 September.

I first saw the two cubs, now 3-year-olds, on 9 May 1961 on Igloo Creek, a mile from where they first were seen in 1960. They were observed in the Sable Pass area from 9 May to 18 September; one or both bears were seen on 52 days.

In 1962 one of the cubs was seen first on 17 May and the other on 22 May, again on Igloo Creek near where they were first seen in 1961. One or both cubs were seen in the Sable Pass area on 23 days between 17 May and 23 August. They moved away from their usual summer haunts earlier in 1962 than they had the 2 previous years. Possibly they followed somewhat their mother's pattern and moved to lower country in search of berries. These cubs were not recognized in 1963 when they were 5 years old. A more detailed discussion of the movements of these cubs is given in the section dealing with cub companionship.

The home range of the two cubs during the periods in which they were observed covered an area 9 or 10 miles in diameter. The cubs, when on their own, did not follow their mother's usual home-range pattern of leaving Sable Pass near the start of the berry season, but stayed on into autumn the first 2 years and quite late the third season. They also appeared much earlier in the spring in the Sable Pass area than did their mother.

In 1963 two other cubs, apparently 2-year-olds on their own, were seen on five occasions between 9 and 27 September. During this period they ranged from Savage River to Teklanika River, a distance of about 9 or 10 miles. They were feeding chiefly on berries, but finding them scarce probably wandered in a wide search for more.

In 1963 a pair of cubs that appeared to be 2-year-olds was seen near the top of Sable Pass on 10 occasions between 23 July and 10 August.

Many other young bears were seen frequently over a period of a month or two, but their identity was not closely maintained for longer periods so data for them will not be tabulated. One year, for example, seven or eight young bears, from 2 to perhaps 4 years old, roamed over the Sable Pass area for much of the summer.

Summary—Home Range

Three families were recognized for 4 consecutive years, two with a single cub each that was still with the female as a 3-year-old, and one seen for each of 2 years with yearling, then with a 2-year-old, and subsequently with another litter of cubs. Data were secured over a 3-year period for eight females while they were followed by cubs. Twenty-seven other families were seen in 2 consecutive years; my absence from the park in the year the cubs were born or when they were 2-year-olds prevented additional records for 15 of these females. Of the other 12 females, 7 were not seen with 2-year-old cubs and 5 were not seen with spring cubs. The usual separation of these cubs from their mothers, in one case as early as 20 May, makes the opportunity to see a 2-year-old with its mother unlikely. Home-range information on all these families seen in more than 1 year is summarized in Table 5. Home-range data for a number of the 69 families seen more than once during a single year only are presented.

The data on home range show that grizzlies have a strong tendency to use definite ranges of limited extent year after year. Each bear tends to follow its own pattern of movement. For instance, some families spend most of their time in one general area throughout the root-, grass-, herb-, and berry-eating periods, whereas other bears may remain in this same area for only the grass- and herb-eating periods, and feed on roots and berries in adjoining areas. Home ranges of different bears in an area thus overlap in various ways.

The home-range pattern for some families was similar from year to year, whereas others varied their movements.

The observed home ranges, over periods up to 3 or 4 months, generally varied from 5 or 6 miles to 12 or 13 miles. However, more extended movements are known to occur; over a 4-year span one family ranged at least 22 miles. For periods of a few weeks, bears may confine their movements within an area a mile or two in diameter.

For none of the families or single bears was the total home range known. Within the ranges of the bears observed, dens were scattered widely, which suggests that bears often did not travel great distances from the den.

General observations indicate that adult males wander more widely than do females with cubs, at least during the period when the males are searching for mates. Because recognition of males and other lone bears is more difficult, documentation of their home ranges was rarely possible.

The varied habitat over most of the park makes spring, summer, and autumn foods available over limited areas. Extended movements, greater than seem necessary, may be made nevertheless. In years when berry crops fail (which are rare), bears may wander more extensively although such movements usually are similar to the home ranges in other years.

Joint Occupation of Range

Grizzlies assume no private ownership of territory. Joint occupation of ranges prevails and bears wander freely over the countryside. Smaller bears keep out of the way of the bigger bears as much as possible. Each unit, such as the lone bear, breeding pair, mother and cubs, sets of older cubs on their own, is independent and does not fraternize ordinarily with other units. When bears do feed within 2 or 3 hundred yards of each other, where they have been attracted by good rooting or grazing, a certain amount of uneasiness and watchfulness prevails, the degree of anxiety depending upon the types of bear units that are present and perhaps the extent of previous acquaintance.

To some extent a peck order exists—each bear knows fairly well where it belongs in the hierarchy. Its status may not be determined by conflict but by recognition of the class to which it belongs. Each bear knows which classes to fear, to defy, and to dominate or tolerate. For example, a female bear will maintain distance from a large male, perhaps defy another female, and, to a degree, dominate or tolerate young bears not yet full grown. Bears are long-lived which gives them time to become familiar with one another, and as acquaintance and experience increases, the peck order probably becomes more individualized. In a wilderness such as McKinley National Park, however, many of the associations are too distant to become very personal. But when two males seek the same female, for instance, dominance between them is settled by bluff or perhaps by conflict. A bear in possession of a carcass must decide his status in relation to an intruder; if both bears feel equal to the other there is a showdown and status is determined by a scuffle.

When choice food is available in a restricted area, a special tolerance may develop. Near the Alaskan coast a number of bears may be attracted to a limited stretch of water where salmon congregate during the spawning season. The lure of delicious food decreases their timidity, and as the stronger bears become accustomed to the proximity of others, their intolerance decreases, and a sort of truce develops although some degree of intolerance usually remains. The most extreme example of this is at a garbage dump, such as at Yellowstone National Park, where I have seen grizzlies, side by side, wallow degradingly in the garbage.

In McKinley National Park, bears ordinarily do not congregate in limited areas, but in some years a fairly high density of bears occurs in an area about 5 or 6 miles in diameter on Sable Pass. In 1961, 5 families, 2 sets of twin cubs 3 or 4 years of age, and at least 6 lone bears (a total of 23 bears) were seen throughout most of the summer on Sable Pass. Fifteen of these animals were seen on 1 September along a 7-mile stretch of road. A total of 28 bears, including five families, occupied the Sable Pass area for much of the summer of 1962. Yet no notable conflicts among bears were seen in 1961 or 1962 despite this concentration. In another area, between Mileposts 24 and 36, five families were seen along a 2-mile stretch of road during 1 week in August 1969. This was a favored blueberry spot and the beginning of the berry season coincided with this brief concentration of bears.

When bears become aware of each other in their travels or feeding activities, there is a mutual appraisal which at times seems to be quite rapid. Status depends chiefly on size. The first reaction of both parties is to move apart. The bear most startled may make the first move away and thus obviate a similar reaction on the part of the other, who may stand and watch or give a perfunctory, brief chase. Young bears are always ready to retreat and so are mothers with cubs, except when they recognize the other party as a young bear. If a big male encounters a smaller bear, he recognizes his own superiority and may either disregard the other bear or, if quite close, may make a token run in its direction. The smaller bear makes his own evaluation and if the other is too near for comfort, he hurries away. There are, of course, endless variations, behavior depending much on past as well as immediate circumstances. including the degree of familiarity.

In general, one discovers a bear or a family off by itself, comfortably apart, feeding at ease. But in some favorite feeding areas, such as on Sable Pass, one often finds that two or more bears are, by chance, feeding quite close to each other. They seem oblivious sometimes, but at other times are gauging the safety of the situation, keeping aware of the other bear's position and moving accordingly, making a fine adjustment or departing from the neighborhood.

The following incidents illustrate various kinds of behavior when bears get involved with one another.

A Mother Beyond Her Usual Range

Individuals, man or beast, are more confident when on familiar territory. A man in his own home tends to speak with more composure and confidence than he does out in company. At our winter bird-feeding board, the red squirrel living in a nearby cabin acts with authority, chasing with vigor magpies, jays, or visiting squirrels. On the other hand, this squirrel, when visiting elsewhere, behaves like an intruder, is meek, tolerates all the birds, and usually hurries homeward lest he chance to meet the squirrel in charge.

Most grizzlies I have observed in McKinley are, so far as I know, on familiar ground and are not beset by the added worry of being in a strange area. On a few occasions I saw mother bears that had ventured beyond their familiar ranges. These mothers were excessively alert and apprehensive. On 22 August 1962 I watched a dark female with her two spring cubs for several hours on the flats of Polychrome Pass where they had come to feed on buffaloberry. This was, so far as I know, her first appearance in the area during summer. Apparently, she had wandered over from the broken country to the north. She behaved as one would expect a bear to behave in strange country. She seemed to be on edge, was ever watchful, and received several false scares. When, later in the day, she spied a young bear about 400 yards away, she hurried away immediately without trying to get a better look.

Three Families and Three Lone Bears on Sable Pass

Early in the morning of 10 July 1959, two females, each with twin yearlings, were feeding on the west side of Sable Pass, some two-thirds of a mile apart. Although Sable Pass is above timberline, bears, even in close proximity, may not always see each other because of the draws, depressions, hummocks, and patches and strips of tall willow brush. A third mother, followed by two yearlings, passed southward on top of the pass a short distance to one side of the first two families, and continued to move toward a pair of mated bears a mile away. A lone bear was present on the west side of the pass, hidden most of the time from all the others. The three families, the pair, and the lone bear were all within an area about 1-1/2 miles in diameter. These bears, spending much of their time in an area 5 or 6 miles in diameter, were not usually so concentrated.

The first two families fed on green vegetation in the moist hollows and swales, inadvertently hidden from each other. A brown female to leeward, however, knew that the other family was somewhere upwind. Both she and the cubs raised their muzzles occasionally to better test the breeze carrying the scent. I expect that this brown female knew who was feeding in the hummocks to the south and knew that it was the golden female with the two golden cubs, for this was not their first meeting. She was alert, but being accustomed to scenting other bears and especially the golden bears, while feeding in this area, did not hurry away.

At noon, the golden family fed downward among the hummocks to about one-quarter mile of the brown female family. After a time the brown family moved a little nearer and the golden mother became aware suddenly of the brown one as the latter came out of a small depression. The golden female and her cubs were surprised, having been unaware of the presence of another bear, and galloped back up the slope, the cubs in the lead. After retreating 300 yards, they regained their composure and fed slowly upward. The brown female, not so startled, watched the family flee and resumed feeding—the situation thus resolved by the flight of the golden bears.

In the afternoon, the two families and three lone bears (the mated pair had separated) were all feeding on the west side of Sable Pass. They were evenly dispersed and behaved as though unaware of one another. At 5:00 p.m. the golden bears, again following choice grazing down the slope, were feeding 200 yards from the brown family which had fed in a small area all day. When the brown female moved to a little rise, she was discovered and once more, led by the two yearlings, the golden family galloped up the slope. At intervals, the cubs stood on hind legs for a better look, and after each look, galloped on. The golden bears hurried away in this manner for 600 yards, then stood watching for some time, made another gallop, and settled down to a steady walk, now led by the mother, until a half-mile away when they disappeared over the horizon. The mother, one would guess, felt the area was too congested and preferred to move away.

The brown female moved a short way toward the hummocks where the golden family had been, sniffing the air as she advanced. She then resumed feeding but soon moved off toward the top of the pass as though she too thought the place was getting crowded. At 8:00 p.m. I discovered the third family (last seen at noon) on the west side of Sable Pass. When the mother saw one of the three lone bears 300 yards away, she and her cubs galloped up the slope a short distance, then settled down to a steady walk that took them out of sight a half-mile away. These families had some acquaintance and tolerance but preferred to retreat from the annoyance and worry of nearby company. This behavior suggests that a certain amount of tension can be endured for a time, but then the bear seeks relief by moving away.

On a few other occasions the three families all appeared at one time, but they were spaced widely and usually only one or two families were in sight at any one time. Without special effort, they seemed to keep apart even though their wanderings, as noted above, were mostly confined to a jointly occupied area 5 or 6 miles in diameter.

Brown Mother Retreats from Blond Family

On 24 June 1962, 3 years after the above incident, the same brown female and her two yearlings (another set of cubs) made their first appearance of the year on Sable Pass. She had spent at least the previous three summers in the area and was on home ground. After feeding for a time on crowberries, the bears crossed over into a hummocky area to feed on the new green vegetation. The depressions between large hummocks and the scattered patches of willow brush were such that a bear was fairly well hidden from any other bears in the vicinity.

Some distance up the gentle, uneven slope, about one-quarter mile from the brown female, a large blond female grazed with her two small yearlings. She lay down and nursed her cubs, then lay resting for a half-hour before feeding slowly toward the other family. Neither family was aware of the presence of the other until the blond mother approached to within 150 yards of the brown female. At this point the latter, who was downwind, scented the blond family, raised her nose a few times to test the air, then stood on hind legs to look. When she saw the blond mother, she dropped on all fours and galloped away for 150 yards. Here she and the cubs were apparently at ease, for they began to graze. The blond mother and two cubs stood erect on hind legs to watch the other family gallop away, then resumed feeding. For the next 2 hours the two families fed about 300 yards apart.

The adults and cubs in each family were always conscious of the proximity of the other family. Occasionally, they watched each other. The brown mother, who had been the most startled and made the initial retreat, seemed to be the more nervous, and she finally moved away. The blond mother, because of the initial retreat of the other family or because of the outcome of earlier, unobserved encounters, probably had a psychological advantage and tended to be more composed. The brown mother's behavior was the reverse of what it had been in a similar incident 3 years before.

Two Mothers of Spring Cubs Avoid Proximity

On 29 June 1964, a blond mother with a spring cub crossed a snowfield on Sable Pass and grazed upward on the opposite slope toward a mother grazing with two spring cubs. When the second female sighted the family down the slope, she galloped 300 yards away and at once nursed her two cubs, possibly displacement activity brought on by her nervousness. After the brief nursing, the mother started grazing again. Soon, two trotting caribou startled her and a little later she was in the line of travel of 60 caribou. Other caribou in migration were passing by, singly or in small groups, and the bear was kept on edge because she had to identify each moving object to make sure it was not another bear. In time she became accustomed to the activity of the caribou, regained some composure, and fed rather steadily among the hummocks.

The mother with the lone cub was not aware of the retreat or presence of the other family. She continued to feed among the hummocks, gradually approaching the position of the family above her. When she had the family in sight, but still quite far off, she retreated down the slope back the way she had come, and started up the snowfield she had crossed earlier. A lone bear over to one side caused her to change her course slightly. The cub, apparently oblivious of the reason for the retreat, amused himself by following the old trail across the snow, sniffing at each track. This caused delay and added to the mother's anxiety. She had to stop and wait, and for a time sat up and surveyed the country. When the cub finally left the old trail and veered toward the mother, she continued steadily on her way to the west. Later in the summer this family was seen, but not on Sable Pass. Their summer range the following year was still to the west. Apparently, Sable Pass was out of their usual range and may have been one reason for the long retreat. The mother with the two cubs remained feeding on the slope.

The same day two lone, young bears on Sable Pass came near each other in the course of their grazing. When the smaller one discovered the other, he galloped for a half-mile and continued walking away. The larger one returned to his grazing. The small bear was especially cautious.

Apprehension in Young Bears

The sudden appearance of another bear nearby is cause for considerable alarm for any bear. One day as I watched a pair of twins about 3 or 4 years old, one of them walked over the crest of a ridge in the course of feeding. A few minutes later, when he returned to view, his companion was so frightened that he galloped away. The mistake was soon recognized and the startled bear joined its companion for some reassuring play.

On 2 June 1960 I saw a small, blond bear, that I judged to be about 3 years old, digging roots near the base of a high bank along the Teklanika River. In the woods above the bear a moose came into my sight, feeding on willow. The bear heard the moose and stood up to look toward the sound, then dashed out on the bar about 50 yards and looked again. He could now see the moose and, after watching it briefly, returned to his digging under the high bank. The previous day I had seen another larger bear chase this one. When he heard the moose above him, he apparently was concerned to learn if another bear was approaching.

Young Bears Chasing Young Bears

Young bears, usually tolerant of each other, occasionally chase one another, sometimes perhaps in the spirit of play, sometimes apparently in an antagonistic mood. Once when a young bear wandered within 400 yards of another, he was chased about a half-mile. The one escaping was the smaller of the two. The large one returned part way to where he had been and began to feed; the other continued moving away from the area.

On 29 August 1964, I saw a young bear chase another up the East Fork River for about a mile. The bear being chased stopped and the other passed it, 100 or 200 yards to one side, and moved into the willow brush. The bear left on the river bar started to dig roots. This chase appeared to be a casual affair—a half-hearted, get-out-of-my-way action and possibly the spirit of play was somewhat involved.

On 2 July 1964, Zack Price saw a young bear chase a smaller one on Sable Pass for 12 minutes over an area about 1-1/2 miles in diameter. He said that the bear in the lead seemed to gallop just fast enough not to be overtaken, and the one behind just fast enough not to overtake. This may have been play activity.

Injured Young Bear

On 18 September 1964, I watched a small dark bear on Sable Pass feeding rapidly and nervously on crowberry. Up high on his rear right hindleg was a fresh wound, and a piece of hide about 2-1/2 inches wide and 7 inches long was hanging loose. Earlier in the day, about a quarter-mile from this bear, I had seen a blond bear that seemed to be somewhat larger. Both bears were 3- or 4-year-olds. Possibly this blond bear had inflicted the wound. The behavior of the wounded bear indicated that the altercation was recent, because at short intervals it would stop feeding for a quick look around. The joint occupation of range apparently had caused an altercation. The bear was oblivious to my proximity.

Two 2-Year-Olds Chased by Male

Small bears, those from 2 to 4 or 5 years old, apparently can, and know they can, outrun a large bear, especially in steep terrain. Once I watched two 2-year-old cubs (recently separated from their mother) discover a large male and gallop across a wide river bar to a steep slope. The male loped along far behind, moving more slowly. On the mountain slope the two cubs stopped at intervals to watch the labored progress of the puffing male who had to stop frequently to rest and catch his breath. When the young bears reached the ridge top, they moved out of sight; when the male reached the top, he gave up the chase. Other species also seem to gauge their margin of safety or their degree of vulnerability. One fall I watched a silver fox behave much like the two cub bears when it was chased up a mountainside by a coyote. The fox stopped on prominent rock ledges to look down and bark at the coyote whose climbing was much more labored. Dall sheep seem especially aware of their advantage when they are in rocks above a bear or a wolf.

Two Young Bears Chase Family in Play

On 25 August 1962, on the east slope of Igloo Mountain, a mother and two yearlings moved down a low ridge into a brushy swale as they foraged. Behind them on the crest of the ridge, twin bears, 3 or 4 years old, appeared. The two young bears stood erect on their hind legs for a better view of the family below them. The two yearling cubs, upon seeing the two young bears on the skyline, took fright and dashed downward, the mother following. When the two young bears saw the family fleeing, they caught the spirit of the chase and loped down the slope after them, but when the mother stopped, they put on the brakes, and as she started a deliberate walk toward them, they retreated at a lope. When the mother turned and walked toward her yearlings, the two young bears again pursued at an easy lope. Seeing the mother stop, the young bears also stopped, but when she again started for her yearlings, they followed. The female's patience had come to an end; she turned and charged as though she meant to follow through. She chased the two youngsters to the top of the ridge where they stopped when she turned to hurry back to her yearlings. The two stood briefly, watching the family as it moved down the slope, then gave up the game and retreated down the opposite side of the ridge. They were aware of their inferior status, but apparently had confidence in their ability to escape and made a game of it. Perhaps they also knew from previous experience that a mother usually will not carry on a chase very far from her offspring.

On several occasions young bears were seen near families without any member showing much concern. If the youngsters kept to a respectable distance, they were tolerated.

Two Self-Assured Young Bears

I once saw two 3-year-old bears cross the line of travel of a mother and her two spring cubs. As the young bears moved along in a dignified, grownup manner, they obviously were watching their distance relationship to the family. They crossed about 150 yards in front of the family that was coming up the slope. About 100 yards off to one side, they stopped and sat down to watch. The mother with her spring cubs veered slightly toward the two young bears who took the hint and started walking away. The mother resumed her original course and seemed unperturbed. She had threatened only sufficiently to let it be known that she would not tolerate bothersome familiarity, and the two youngsters, rambling about on their own, seemed to understand.

Bluff by a Mother Bear Fails

There are occasions when a mother bear, feeling superior to a large 3- or 4-year-old animal, resents his presence and walks toward him to chase him away. On two occasions I have seen a large, young bear that appeared to be a male stand his ground and refuse to be bluffed. On both occasions the female discreetly returned to her cubs rather than risk an encounter with a bear her own size.

Families Unperturbed Near Young Bears

On 26 July 1963, I saw a female with her two 2-year-old cubs feeding on Sable Pass about 200 yards from one lone bear and 300 yards from a second lone bear. These lone bears were 3 or 4 years old. Later, the family moved within 75 yards of one bear that was feeding in a hollow directly below. The mother and two cubs stood watching the young bear who was too busy feeding to notice. But the family, unperturbed, moved away, feeding. Later, the second young bear moved within 75 yards of the family, apparently neither unit knowing the proximity of the other. When the mother discovered the young bear, a very shaggy animal, she lay on her stomach for 5 or 6 minutes with head resting on paws, watching it. Her two cubs stopped feeding, walked to her, and one pushed its muzzle under her chest. She complied and rolled over on her back, out of sight of the unaware, shaggy bear below them, and the cubs nursed. In watching the young bear below her, she apparently did not like to have it feeding so close, yet was not concerned or resentful enough to do anything about it; that is, either to chase it or to retreat. Nursing finished, she sat up for a look; then she and her cubs lay in a heap. The shaggy bear gave no indication that he was aware of this family. He did not catch their scent and fed too steadily to see them when they were in view. The two lone bears, now both on the slope below the family, rested while the family moved on without disturbing them.

On this day I saw, in an area about 4 miles in diameter, the above mentioned family and two lone bears and in addition seven other young bears. The latter group consisted of twins that were 3 or 4 years old, three lone young ones, and twin 2-year-olds on their own. These five groups of bears were, for the most part, well spaced during the day. The 2-year-old twins, which were quite timid, at one point galloped away from one of the lone bears that had chased them a short distance. The area was much more congested than usual. The above situation is described briefly to show again that when a mother with cubs recognizes young bears nearby, she may ignore them to some extent.

Young Bear Shows No Fear

On 23 July 1965, on the low pass south of Cathedral Mountain, I saw a mother with two yearlings on the far slope of a hollow. After a time, a blond bear, definitely smaller than the mother bear, appeared out of a draw and came in sight of the family on the opposite side of the hollow. The lone bear, on seeing the family, seemed to take on a stiff, guarded gait, and the family, startled, moved back 15 or 20 yards. Then the mother started walking slowly toward the lone one which was now 75 yards or less from her. The small bear stopped, walked forward a few steps, and stopped again. The female, followed closely by her cubs, started galloping toward the small bear and disappeared in the hollow out of my view. I expected her to appear momentarily on the rise where the small bear was standing, but instead the two cubs reappeared and galloped in retreat back toward where they had started, followed a moment later by their mother. The cubs probably caused the retreat. They stopped soon after coming into view; the small bear started to walk away, and the family resumed feeding.

A Mother With Spring Cubs Tolerant of Young Bears

On 3 July 1962 a mother and two spring cubs on the middle of an old river bar near the head of the East Fork River were grazing on peavine which grew there luxuriantly. Some young bears had also been attracted to this peavine. About 250 yards to one side of her, at the edge of the bar, were twins about 3 years old. On the other side at a similar distance from her was another set of twins about the same age. These three sets of bears, brought together by choice grazing, were adjusted to each other's presence and fed or rested in relatively close proximity, with toleration and composure. The female had no fear of the young bears, and they in turn apparently had confidence that the female only wished to be left alone and that they could escape if she should give chase. They adjusted distances accordingly, distances which no doubt shortened somewhat with familiarity.

A Mother Chases Young Bear for Long Distance

On 12 August 1959, a photographer saw a mother bear chase a small, lone bear (about a 3-year-old) across an extensive talus slope on Igloo Mountain. The distance traveled was a little over one-half mile. At one point the mother almost overtook the small bear. When the chase started, the mother's two yearlings climbed far up among cliffs, away from the action. As I arrived on the scene the chase was over, the 3-year-old was in the distance, moving away and the mother had moved up in the cliffs to retrieve her cubs.

A Mother Bear Causes a Larger One to Leave

On 3 June 1964, on Cathedral Mountain I saw a mother and 2-year-old cub moving slowly up a slope as they dug roots. A few hundred yards higher on the mountain and on an adjoining ridge was a rather large bear. About 2-1/2 hours after I first saw these bears, the mother and cub, which had been out of view for a time, reappeared not far below the large, lone bear. The mother started to walk toward the lone one which was obviously larger then she. The big bear moved away but stopped two or three times only 25 or 30 yards ahead of the mother. The cub remained far behind. The mother stopped and the larger bear moved 200 or 300 yards across a ridge. The mother's behavior was different from anything I had observed previously. Ordinarily, instead of advancing toward the lone bear, a mother would have retreated.

Large Male Frightens Mother With Spring Cubs

On 13 June 1959, an old, crippled male, traveling the country in search of a mate, came down a slope and surprised a mother with spring cubs feeding along a streamlet. She was not aware of the male until he was 50 yards from her. She and her cubs galloped away and the startled male, after a brief look, made a short, token chase of a few yards before continuing on his way down the slope. The family hurried on until it reached the top of a ridge a half mile away and, without stopping to look back, went over to the other side. The mother must have recognized the male as a big one, and lost no time moving away. It is probably to avoid big males that females with cubs seek cliffs for a night bed in spring and early summer.

Large Male Unsettles Mother Bear

Early in the morning of 8 July 1965, a mother and her 2-year-old cub were seen feeding on an extensive old river bar covered with sod and scattered patches of willow brush. They were still there at 6:15 p.m. as was a large male on the bar 300 yards away, all grazing steadily. At 7 p.m. the cub stopped feeding, rubbed his back against willow brush, sat beside his mother, and nursed. A half-hour later the mother discovered the male although he did not see her. She and the cub galloped out on the gravel bar, walked away in a large arc, and returned to the green bar farther to the north, a quarter-mile from the big male who was still grazing steadily. The mother lay down but stood again when the cub crowded her for a nursing. I then noticed two black wolves trotting briskly across the gravel bar toward the two bears. When one passed a few yards to one side, the mother made a few jumps toward it. The cub made a short gallop toward the wolf passing on the opposite side. The wolves continued northward. About 250 yards down the river, one of the wolves turned and trotted back toward the family, into the wind. When the bears discovered the wolf some 50 yards away, they were startled, and without taking a good look, galloped away. It is probable that the mother, aware of the big male grizzly in the area, was especially wary, and on seeing a black animal approaching, partially hidden by scattered willow brush, assumed it to be the male, and departed. The family settled down to a steady walk and continued for over a mile before feeding. This seems a good example of the behavior of a bear being influenced by a recent experience (Fig. 19).

Fig. 19. A female and her spring cub watch intently as a lone bear passes nearby.

A Male Chases a Cub

Large male bears may attack smaller bears, including cubs. Apparently, it is the big male that is especially dangerous in this regard. On 10 July 1961, a group of hikers far up the East Fork River on a bank about 15 feet above the river bar, saw what appeared to be a large, male grizzly. As he moved along, he stopped occasionally to listen and test the air. Then they saw him begin to gallop, and a mother and yearling appeared in front of him, running away. The female turned to ward off the male who continued in pursuit of the cub. The mother nipped at the male from behind, causing him to turn on her twice. The chase led directly under the bank where the hikers stood. As the cub turned up a draw, the male continued forward along the bar and was last seen a mile away. The presence of the hikers may have disrupted the chase or perhaps the female's attacks on the rear of the male were effective. The attacking bear was considered a male because it was much bigger than the female bear.

Deaths at Garbage Dumps

On 28 August 1963, the mother of three spring cubs was found dead near the park garbage dump. She had frequented the dump for a few weeks, but I did not learn about the incident until the evening of 29 August. When I arrived at the dump that evening, I examined the carcass which had been dragged a short distance to the edge of the dump pit. There were deep tooth wounds on the head and neck; teeth had grazed and penetrated the skull and the wounds were bloodshot, suggesting that they had been made while the female was still alive. It is possible that she had been attacked by a large male while she was trying to protect her cubs. This is suggested by the behavior of the mother described in the preceding episode. The teeth were quite worn, the molars, down to the gums, indicating that the female was very old. If she did have an encounter with a large bear, it is likely that she lost some of her maneuverability in fighting, and this prevented her from escaping the male.

At 1:30 a.m. on 23 July 1961, an archeologist came upon a large bear straddling an inert bear on the highway at Milepost 6, near the park garbage dump. The big bear's jaws were clamped on the neck of the victim as he dragged it across the road. At intervals, he would lift the inert bear and give it a shake, as though he had just attacked and killed it. A hotel employee reported that earlier he had seen two bears in the area playing. This "playing" probably was a serious altercation resulting in the death of one animal, the one seen by the archeologist. When I examined the carcass of the bear later that day, the inguinal region and the flesh on the lower ribs were eaten. On the ground under the carcass there was much blood from neck wounds. The sex of the bear was not determined. What we saw indicated that a large bear had killed another whose age we estimated to be about 4 years. I had often seen a light-colored bear, resembling this one, at the garbage dump, and it was not seen again after this incident.

Both these incidents appeared to result from congestion at a garbage dump, indicating that the tolerance among bears usually observed there can break down. Large grizzlies are known to have killed cubs at garbage dumps in Yellowstone National Park also (Craighead and Craighead 1967).

Tragedy as Result of Joint Occupation

Elsewhere (Murie 1961) I have written about two mother grizzlies who spent the summer of 1950 on Sable Pass. One, whom I called Nokomis, had three spring cubs; the other, called Old Rosy, had two spring cubs. Whenever they found themselves uncomfortably near each other, they moved apart. I saw Nokomis 28 times during the summer and Old Rosy 16 times. They confined much of their wandering to a small area a couple of miles in diameter. On 10 July a companion and I started to watch the families early in the morning; as we watched them moving about in their grazing, generally 300 to 400 yards apart, we wondered what would happen if the two families should meet accidentally at close quarters.

Late in the afternoon, about 5 p.m., Nokomis with her three cubs moved westward, passing below Old Rosy and her two cubs about 150 yards above. A short time after the mother and three cubs had disappeared in a hollow, one of the cubs came back over the trail and behaved as though he was lost. Old Rosy watched the cub from up the slope and then galloped toward it. The cub retraced its steps at a gallop, and Old Rosy followed, both disappearing in the hollow. Later, when we saw the bears, the three cubs were far ahead, climbing Sable Mountain and stopping at intervals to watch the two mothers. Their mother, Nokomis, kept intercepting Old Rosy who tried to get past her. On a steep slope they fought, with Old Rosy having the advantage of being above Nokomis when they clashed. They then continued up the slope, walking side by side for a time, and later Old Rosy galloped up toward the fleeing cubs who were nearing the top of Sable Mountain. Nokomis remained below as though she was not aware of the location or plight of her cubs. When Old Rosy overtook the cubs, one escaped downward, one upward, and she killed the third. She then went after the cub that had gone upward and apparently killed it because the next morning eagles were feeding on its carcass. In this instance, occupation of the same range by two families resulted in tragedy—a natural curb of the bear population.

A Potential Conflict

On Sable Pass on 10 July 1955, I witnessed what might have developed into another tragedy. Two families, a mother with one yearling and a mother with two spring cubs, fed toward each other near Igloo Creek. The spring-cub family was feeding in the open at the edge of a patch of tall willow brush. The other family was moving through the brush toward them, the yearling some distance in advance of its mother. When it was about 25 yards from the spring cubs, the yearling in the brush stood on its hind legs, apparently having scented the other family, and bawled three or four times. This caused its mother to hurry forward anxiously. Just before breaking into the open, the mother saw her cub over to one side and turned toward him. Otherwise, she would have burst into the open only a few yards from the spring cubs and a tragedy might have resulted. The spring-cub family, upwind, then became aware of the other two bears and galloped fast and far. The incident illustrates the manner in which families can meet accidentally at dangerously close quarters.

Grizzly Kills Two Black Bear Cubs

Isabelle and Sam Woolcock, who have spent several summers observing and photographing bears in McKinley National Park and are reliable observers, witnessed a tragic incident near Anchorage. Isabelle wrote me about it as follows:

We were sitting on the river bank glassing the low mountain slopes when we saw a black bear with two cubs. As they came out on the grassy slopes they were plainly visible with the naked eye. Then we saw a lone grizzly coming over a rise, and as it travelled forward it was at intervals hidden by the brush. When it came into the opening where the family was feeding it made a short dash toward them, swatted one cub, and then the other as it attempted to run away. The mother seemed terrified as she dashed away. The grizzly then grazed slowly until out of sight.

I expect a big male may treat the cubs of a female grizzly similarly.

Grizzly Reported Killing a Black Bear

In O. J. Murie's field notes written at Ophir, Alaska, on 2 March 1922, I find the following item pertaining to bear conflict on a common range: "A trapper tells me that one fall before the freeze-up he found a black bear on Big River which had been killed by a brown bear. The black one had been digging a new den, near an old bear den, and had a bed at the base of a tree. There were marks of a desperate struggle. The body of the black bear had been deeply scored, apparently by the claws. A slight amount had been eaten. The black bear had been about half covered by moss, etc. when the trapper appeared on the scene.

Mingling of Bears Results in Adoption of Cubs

At the McNeil River where a number of bears assemble to fish, an interesting episode was reported by Erickson and Miller (1963). At this location the assembled bears tend to become accustomed to one another. On one occasion a mother with three spring cubs were assembled at the falls with three other bears. Later, another female with three spring cubs appeared and entered the water a short distance from the first female who was also fishing. The two litters of cubs mingled on shore. The second female caught a salmon and rushed up a bluff and out of view. Soon, the first female approached and inspected the six cubs whose odors had perhaps mingled a little. Anyway, the strange cubs were accepted. The female crossed the river with the six cubs and resumed fishing. Later, the second female joined the six cubs and was attacked by the first female. The fight terminated when the second mother entered the water to rescue a cub that had fled into the river and was being swept away. She returned to the site of the fight and followed the trail of the first mother who had left with the remaining five. The first female was seen with the five cubs for several days. This incident ended quite differently from the one I witnessed in which a mother killed two cubs. However, the circumstances were quite different.

Troyer and Hensel (1962) document several cases of cannibalism by brown bears on the coast of southern Alaska. They conclude, "Apparently cannibalism is more prevalent during the breeding season when males are seeking sows. Large males are usually involved and small or newly born cubs are frequently prey." In the incidents they describe, the victims were usually fed upon. In none of the bear-inflicted deaths I have described was there evidence that killing was for food and carcasses were fed upon but little.

The preceding data on joint occupation of range show that several bears may wander over a common range. The incidents that I observed occurred chiefly on Sable Pass, an especially favored area during the summer season. Over most of the park, bears are spaced more widely than at Sable Pass. My observations show that bears tend to move apart when they are near each other, but that proximity may occasionally cause some mortality. It is said that man's greatest enemy is man—likewise, bear's greatest enemy other than man is bear. There may be a tendency for an automatic, self-regulation of population among grizzly bears.

Movements of Transported Bears

At times, especially if garbage is available, bears become troublesome at camps and other habitations. Repeated association among bears breeds an excess of familiarity. When this occurs, bears are removed to distant areas. Observation of such transplanted bears gives some insight into their homing tendencies and abilities.

Some Bears Remain Where Released

In 1960 two large, chocolate cubs, about 3 years old, were close companions at a garbage dump 6 miles from the McKinley Hotel. They fed daily on the hotel garbage that remained intact after some attempt at burning had been made.

To terminate the dump feeding by these two bears one was trapped on 26 August and released at East Fork River, about 36 miles to the west. When the bear was released from the trap, he stood a moment, walked stiffly across the road, and climbed the slope above. When some distance up the slope he stopped, raised his nose, and gave the air currents a prolonged testing. As he moved higher, he made an occasional random bite at the berry bushes along the way. On the skyline he gazed over the country, contemplating the river bars, the rolling tundra, and the many ridges and peaks, as though appraising his new world, and perhaps wondering where the garbage dump was hidden.

His partner was trapped and released on 14 September, at the same location as the 26 August release. I did not see this release so did not witness his behavior, but I was told that he also climbed the ridge above the road.

On 20 September I saw the two chocolate bears about 2 miles east of where they had been released. The bears had found and recognized each other and had remained in the new area, at least temporarily. They fed on berries and were quite tame.

On 24 September the two bears were on the same ridge where they had been released, and were industriously digging roots about one-half mile from the release point.

On 1 September 1961, I saw two bears together that resembled those mentioned above—one dark chocolate and one light chocolate—about a quarter-mile from the spot where the twins were released in 1960. These bears were seen in the same area on 6 September. They were very tame. On 7 September the twins were seen 2 miles to the east. On 9 September they were about 2 miles to the west of their release point, and on 13 September were again seen in the area. On 20 September they were 2 miles east of their release point, and on 24 September were digging roots, as they had the previous fall, about one-half mile above the release spot.

Thus these two bears remained in the general area where they were released for a period of at least one year.

Some Bears Travel When Released

A young bear, trapped at the Morino Campground near the hotel, and released at Milepost 42 on 4 September 1961, apparently did not remain in the area. On the evening of 5 September, Isabelle Woolcock (photographer and keen observer) saw it dumping the garbage can boldly near her camper at Igloo Campground (Milepost 32). She stated that she knew the bear when it was raiding the Morino Campground. On the same day I had seen two bear scats strung along the road between East Fork (Milepost 42) and Igloo Campground (Milepost 32) that contained remnants of garbage, suggesting that the bear released at East Fork had been hurrying along the road toward the Igloo Campground.

On 24 September 1961, a small bear, about 3 years old, was trapped near the hotel and released 39 miles to the west, on Sable Pass (Milepost 39). When released at 11:00 a.m., he ran far up the slope, then galloped east and north for 3 miles down Igloo Creek. I saw him at intervals along the way as far as Milepost 34. At 3:30 p.m., when I stepped out of Igloo Cabin (Milepost 32), this bear was 7 or 8 yards from the door. He continued moving through the woods, northward. How far the bear continued was not known, but he did not remain where he was released. If he continued following the road in the direction he was going, he would have returned eventually to the point of capture.

In 1969, a relatively small, dark bear that had been visiting the road camp at Toklat was trapped on 21 August and released 19 miles (by road) west. The next day we observed a small, dark bear at Milepost 55 moving eastward and limping badly on one forefoot. Later, we saw it cross the river and move about 2 miles east of the Toklat road camp. We noted a white splotch on the bear's muzzle which later confirmed the identity of this bear as the one transplanted the day before. Apparently, some white paint was spilled on the bear's head by mistake. This bear returned from about 19 miles away within 24 hours after release.

Bears that have been feasting on garbage have a strong incentive, perhaps, to return to their former haunts after they are moved elsewhere. Even so, some may remain in their new locale as did the twin cubs described above.

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Last Updated: 06-Dec-2007