Friday, August 17, 2012

The mighty grizzly in all its majesty - sort of

It’s true, bears really do, um, you know, in the woods.
We saw a bear doing just that on a recent vacation to the wilds of northern British Columbia.
And this was no ordinary bear. This was the mighty grizzly bear.
As soon as I saw the cars ahead of me slowing down I knew it was either an accident or wildlife.
In this case it was a forest beast displaying his mighty splendor for all to see. He was on the side of the road taking a poop.
I have to admit it was not exactly a grand or majestic way for the animal to display its prowess, but it was still a grizzly bear so it was pretty darn cool.
And I know that technically he was not doing his business in the woods, but he was right on the edge of the woods so it was close enough and I consider the question of exactly where a bear does that to be closed.
I am pretty sure he, or she, blushed as we went past because who wants to caught with their pants down. But no matter, the grizzly really is a spectacular animal and the king of the B.C. woodlands and seeing one was a great start to our vacation.
By grizzly standards, this one was a little guy and weighed in around 700 pounds, roughly the same as your average American, and had the telltale hump on his back whereas Americans have a telltale hump on the front - right around their midsection.
Grizzlies can grow to be absolutely massive. There is a stuffed one in the Royal B.C. Museum that is the biggest bruin I have ever gazed upon. I have no fear of a bear that large smashing with its mighty paw until I am dead, because I would die of a heart attack just seeing the beast come running towards me.
I wonder if the smell of human urine would act as a grizzly repellent because there would be plenty of that around where I would be standing. I hope to never find out.
I have had several encounters with their ‘smaller’ counterpart, the black bear, as has just about anyone who has spent any time outdoors in this province. Having grown up in the sticks in the B.C. interior, interaction with bears and a variety of other beastly beasts were common events.
But in the northern region those experiences are magnified and intensified because there is just so much wildlife to interact with. You can’t go around a corner without encountering some sort of wild critter and it is always one of the highlights of our regular northern adventures.
Heading to the tundra of B.C. is nothing new to me and my family. Why? Because my wife has relatives up there so every second year we load up the van and embark on a marathon road trip.
The trip is often an adventure in critter watching. Over the years we have seen numerous black bears, enough deer to realize there are way too many deer in this province and a variety of beasts from moose to foxes and just about everything in between. About the only thing more abundant than the deer are the bugs. I am sure I collect 20 pounds worth of bugs in the grill of my van on each trip.
You also see a few ‘mystery’ animals on the road. Not at the side of the road, but on the road itself. They are mystery animals because they are roughly four feet long and half an inch tall.
The best guess is that it was some sort of smallish animal with fur.
Not quite as exciting as seeing a real, live grizzly, but like the beastly bruin it does give the family something to talk about during the monotonous trek to see the in laws.

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