Brown black bears

Black Bears, Ursus americanus, are properly black where I live in Maine, but out west they come in many shades. In The Tetons and in Yellowstone I saw black-hued ones in the far distance on two occasions (one of which I personally spotted first through the scope at least a kilometer away, eliciting a high-five from Mark), but my closest encounter was with a walnut-brown mother and two matching cubs.-

They were coming down a steep hillside across a gully from us, and Mark using his scope/cellphone combo got this video:

Then the mother crossed the gully (and the road) to the next hillside

followed by the cubs, in a big hurry,

and they headed off into the woods,

where they hung out for some considerable time, foraging:

The cubs would have been born in the den in mid-January to early February while the mother was still hibernating, so they are now about 8 months old. Two is the usual litter.

She probably weighs 150 pounds; males can be twice that.

She is now building up her body weight to survive another long winter in hibernation. On this occasion she was eating snowberries:

The cubs will spend one more winter with her before she chases them off in the spring.

PS Yellowstone is vast, 3500 square miles, but it has very few roads, and vehicles must stay on those roads. You can hike, but the animals are thinly spread, so you mostly see them from vehicles. As a result, when a bear comes close enough to the road to be easily visible, bedlam ensues. Cars screech to a halt, people leap out, the rangers arrive to control the crowds. Not my preferred way to see wildlife, though I am one of the tourists in the vehicles adding to the problem. You have to wonder why the animals ever go near the roads, given how much back country they have to roam in, and that feeding the wildlife is strictly forbidden and well policed.

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