Touching Moments in the Wild: Exhausted Mama Bear Devotes Herself to Feeding Her Cubs

“ When I see bears, wolves and wolverines eating salmon here in midwinter, it all relates to water quality – it’s what makes this little biological piece of work happen.” — Phil Timpany


Bear naturalist Phil Timpany tells a story of one his favourite grizzlies. Bernice is 27 years old and Phil has known her since she was a cub. Phil explains the nursing sequence and relationship between mother and cub.


Fishing Branch bears live in an unscathed ecosystem with little impact from humans. The bears have become quite accustomed to visitors at Bear Cave Mountain. In nature’s world, grizzlies are at the top of the food chain and thus most have no natural fear of enemies, including humans. However, each bear is an individual, and some individuals are more cautious of new things than others.

“You always deal with individual bears; some bears never do become tolerant of people. One of the most critical things is that we never determine the distance we are from a bear. We let the bears decide the distance. The bears have such varied personalities, but all bears have the same nature. They’re intelligent and tolerant – they’re really not interested in getting into trouble with you.” — Phil Timpany

The Vuntut Gwitchin people are strongly connected to Fishing Branch and Bear Cave Mountain. Ni’iinlii Njik is a sacred area with a long history of traditional use. Gwitchin elders remind us how the Fishing Branch watershed and tributaries are vital for the community and for the protection of fish and caribou. In the spring, the Porcupine caribou herd migrates through this area.



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