Home page: Picture book

Black bear, Newfoundland, Canada.

Black bear, scared and trying to outrun the helicopter.

These picture was taken taken out of a helicopter. The bear initially looked at us and then started running, crashing through the dense shrubs.

A few weeks earlier I had a less safe bear experience.

Black bear.

The bear and three cubs, July 1987

End of July of 1989 we camped in the Southern Long Range, near the edge of the highlands on the West Coast. This is just before the blueberry season so I did not expect any bears yet. The caribous now migrated to the most southern and highest mountains to make use of abundant grass. Around our camp I counted some 2000 caribous, all spread out on the surrounding hills in groups of 5-20 keeping a watch full eye but they did not show any signs of disturbance by our presence.

I said good bye to David, my summer student, in morning to do a day traverse on my own to the North-West of the camp close to the edge of the highlands. After walking between the caribous mostly standing on the small hills for one hour, I suddenly could see for a few kilometers towards the West Coast and the lowland woods. To my surprise I spotted a female bear with 3 cubs at a kilometer distance. In Newfoundland, bears normally have two cubs as they live of big game like caribou and moose but three is exceptional. Mommy must be pretty well equipped to raise three by being a good hunter.

I increased my pace to and only briefly looked at the rocks for a while. Suddenly I heard a crashing noise on the left side of fast moving animals running through low bush. I looked back at where I last saw the bears and now I could see mommy bear chasing a moose with a calf. They crashed at full speed through the dense bush with an amazing the strength. I would not be able to reach more than a fraction of their speed. Worse was that they came kind of in my direction, just a bit of too the left, so I started running to the right keeping the caribous that were watching the scene between myself and the bear figuring that as long as they wouldn’t move I would be save. I now realized that I would have felt a bit saver if I had carried the shotgun we had in the camp but this adds another 4 kg in weight. This is also why you normally walk-around with two persons but being on your own halves the work and the reward is an extra day off.

After another 5 minutes I dared to look on the left side, went up a hill and standing between a few caribous that did not move, I saw the bear returning to her cubs. The moose and her calf kept on running in the far distance. A failed chase. I kept on going fast to ensure I would not be the next one to be chased although highly unlikely as bears always stay away from people. They are afraid of us because of the guns and they stick to their normal diet.

PS No pictures of this encounter.

(Back to picture book page)