The grizzly bear’s fur ranges from a cream or brown colour to almost black, as shown in our Bear Gallery. Light coloured tips over darker fur render the bears a grizzled look, hence the name, grizzly. A shoulder hump will distinguish grizzlies from other bear species. Adults weigh between 250-600 pounds.
Natural cold springs and porous karst beneath Bear Cave Mountain supply a constant flow of oxygenated river water, year round. This enables salmon eggs to thrive, thus boosting the entire food chain.
“When I see bears, wolves and wolverines eating salmon here in early winter, it all is a result of exceptional water quality. It’s what makes this little ecological jewel happen.” — Phil Timpany
The chum salmon draw the grizzly bears to the Bear Cave Mountain area. To prepare for denning, these magnificent giants of the forest take advantage of the abundant food supply as they enter Stage 4 of the process known as hyperphagia, which simply means they eat and drink excessively in preparation for denning. Every fall, in the shadow of craggy mountains, as many as 40 grizzly bears amble along the river’s banks, foraging their limit of chum salmon, which have journeyed two thousand kilometers from the Bering Sea to spawn and die. It is a sight to behold as the grizzly excels at fishing.
By mid-October, winter settles in at Bear Cave Mountain and, along with the winter elements,the grizzlies are transformed into “Ice Bears”.
During November the frosty, satiated bears then head 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 easily be awakened.
Some of the females will be pregnant when entering a cave and during mid-winter they can produce up to three tiny, blind and hairless offspring. These cubs travel with their mother for two to three years.
Since Fishing Branch bears live in a protected ecosystem with minimal interference from humans, they have become quite accustomed to visitors at Bear Cave Mountain. In their ecosystem, grizzlies are apex predators residing at the top of the food chain and, therefore, have no natural enemies. However, each bear is an individual, and some individuals are more cautious of new things, much like humans, than others.
“You are always dealing 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 unspoiled natural simplicity of Bear Cave Mountain truly showcases the ecological and cultural power of this special place where nature and humans continue to live harmoniously as they have for thousands of years.
We are proud of the fact that, in the 14 years that Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures has been in operation, there have been zero undesirable encounters or incidences between bears and humans. Our safety record speaks to our knowledge of bear behaviour, our amicable guide and guest relationship and our never ending dedication to maintaining a peaceful co-existence with bears based on mutual respect.