Pur­su­ing Bears

Canadian Wildlife - - VIEW FINDER - –Wayne Lynch

Hav­ing pub­lished seven books on bears over the last 30 years, I have many trea­sured mem­o­ries of them. But one in par­tic­u­lar al­ways brings a smile to my face. It hap­pened when I joined bi­ol­o­gist Peter Clark­son ra­dio-tag­ging griz­zly bears in the bar­ren grounds of the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries. On this one June af­ter­noon, Peter darted a mother bear with two new­born cubs bounc­ing along be­side her. When the dart hit her rump, the mother ran away from her cubs, and by the time the drugs took ef­fect, she was over a kilo­me­tre away from them. Peter and I now had to catch the cubs with a pair of fish­ing nets and re­turn the growl­ing baby bru­ins to their mother’s side. But when the cubs saw us, they raced up a muddy ravine. The slip­pery, gooey mud soon caked our boots, and we fi­nally had to ad­mit de­feat. The he­li­copter pilot, hov­er­ing over­head, saw the es­cap­ing cubs, so he herded them to­wards us while we crouched be­hind a boul­der and waited in am­bush. When the lit­tle bears bounded past, we nabbed them with our nets. This was se­ri­ous bear research, but you couldn’t tell from the looks of us, splat­tered with mud and each wield­ing our catch-of-theday — a squirm­ing, squeal­ing fur­ball with nee­dle-sharp teeth.

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