Brooks Falls: Brown Bears

At Brooks Falls in Alaska we were able to see brown bears much closer than at Denali. The bears were busy fishing and eating, making it easier to see their behavior.

The social order of brown bears seems to be like that of lions:

  • The alpha male is dominant
  • Key activities are eating and procreation
  • Mothers are devoted to their children
  • Youngsters play

The alpha male is dominant

Where does the 1200 pound bear go? Where he wants.

The largest bear at Brooks Falls is bear 747, shown above. The US Park Service identifies bears by number, rather than a name, to maintain a more neutral view of the bears.

Bear 747 is coming up the Falls. The farthest bear is walking away with a salmon. The closest bear, standing at the prime fishing spot, is watching. The smaller bears give the big bears space.

here comes the big guy
here comes the big guy (click to enlarge)

A second big bear has seen better days. His right ear has been torn off, and there are wounds on his face.

bear missing his right ear
bear missing his right ear

Key activities are eating and procreation

Bears at the Falls spent most of their time fishing and eating, which will the subject of a later post.

Bear 747 spent a lot of time following a female bear. A volunteer told us that he had been following her for weeks, but they hadn’t mated yet this year.

female bear resting on river bank
female bear resting on river bank

Mothers are devoted to their children

Rangers stressed that you have to keep your distance from mothers and their cubs. Mothers get upset when people get between them and their cubs.

There were two mother bears with cubs at Brooks Falls. The mother and four cubs are walking on a road toward the Lodge. (You can only see three cubs in this photo, but there are four.)

mother and four cubs
mother and four cubs (click to enlarge)

Here the second mother and her cub are running through the water to elude a male.

Holly and cub running
Holly and cub running (click to enlarge)

Youngsters play

Adolescents are smaller than adults but more active. Smaller than adults, they hung out at the riffles below the Falls, rather than challenge adults for the prime fishing spots.

Adolescent bears are more active
Adolescent bears are more active (click to enlarge)
adolescent bear are watchful and stay away from adults
adolescent bears are watchful and stay away from adults (click to enlarge)

Frisky, young bears are fun to watch.

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Published by

charley280

I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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