While coming down the road from Maligne Lake, Jasper NP, last October, we encountered a traffic jam. There were so many cars and people that it was difficult to see what the attraction was. We drove up slowly, and then saw a very large Black Bear feeding on Rosehip bushes in the ditch. The tourists were only a few metres away along the shoulder of the road. Yikes!
We drove on a little ways, and turned around in a side road, and came back to watch. It was tempting to get out, but the bear was too close for comfort, and there were so many people and cars.
Eventually, the bear decided that it had had enough. It initially climbed up the opposite side of the ditch, and then decided to run between the cars and across the road.
Amazingly, several people ran after the bear as it disappeared into the woods. Other tourists followed. Comments about being too close and giving the bear some space were not welcomed. We drove further up the road and turned around, then came back and watched from a distance.
As more people moved towards the bear, it became trapped between the shoreline of a small pond and a long line of tourists. The bear didn’t know what to do, but amazingly didn’t show any aggressive behaviour. After a moment’s hesitation, the bear shot through a gap that developed at one end and disappeared into the woods.
While all of this was happening, I slowly and carefully ventured a short distance laterally from our truck and away from the crowd of tourists. I took the shots here from a distance of about 20-25 m with a 500mm lens, just before the bear disappeared.
Afterwards, I found myself wondering, as I still do now, whether or not I should have stayed to take these images. Even though I kept my distance for both my safety and to give the bear space, did I interfere with the bear’s activities simply by being part of the ‘bear-jam’? Should we have stayed, or just driven away? It’s a tough question. It’s one that I will continue to think about.