Yukon Grizzly Bear Viewing at Fishing Branch River, Yukon Canada. Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures, Bear Photography, Wildlife Photography, Grizzly Bears Extinction

Bear Facts

The unscathed land of Bear Cave Mountain is the substance of folklore. Isolated from roads and development, the area is a valuable, zen-like wilderness that provides distinctive opportunities to connect nature with the past. Here, grizzly bears and humans have long tread common pathways to share the bounty of the remarkable Fishing Branch River.

Thermal springs and porous karst beneath the mountain ensure the flow of warm, oxygenated river water year round. Here, the salmon eggs thrive, boosting the entire food chain.

“ 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

The chum salmon draw the grizzly bears to the Bear Cave Mountain area. To prepare for hibernation, these magnificent giants of the forest take advantage of the abundant food supply.

Every fall, in the shadow of craggy mountains, as many as 40 grizzly bears shamble along the river’s banks, foraging their limit of chum salmon that have traveled thousands of miles from the Bering Sea to spawn and die. The grizzly excels at fishing.

By mid-October, winter settles in at Bear Cave Mountain; the elements of an arriving winter transform the grizzlies into ‘ice bears.’

During November the frosty, satiated bears then amble up Bear Cave Mountain to den in its numerous caves and crevices. A protective layer of fat enables the bears to rest in their dens for the winter, but as they do not truly hibernate, they can be easily awakened.

Some of the females will be pregnant when entering a cave and may produce up to three tiny, blind and hairless offspring. These cubs travel with their mother for two to three years.

The grizzly bear's fur ranges from a cream or silver color to almost black, as shown in our Bear Galleries. Light-colored tips over darker fur render the bears a grizzled look, hence the name, grizzly. A humpy shoulder and low-slung neck further distinguish these bears. Adults weigh between 250-600 pounds.

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.

The indigenous people say, “We know the caribou like ourselves - we live with them - we take a few, watch them go through, and give them thanks. We speak for them.”

The unspoiled natural simplicity of Bear Cave Mountain truly showcases the ecological and cultural power of a place where nature and humans harmonize.

Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures © January, 2012