A Grizzly Bear Season Like Never Before
As we drifted toward the bank of the inlet, I saw nothing more than another mossy rock nestled in amongst the yellow and green sedge grass, now tall enough for animate and inanimate objects to hide in. I wondered what the captain was seeing that I wasn’t, and peered again through my binoculars. And then, when the rock was right in front of us, it slowly raised its head and blinked the sleep out of its eyes, while another smaller rock beside it heaved up and down with the slow rhythmic breathing of a deep sleep. It was Hot Chocolate, and her first-year cub Marshmallow. On our last bear tour of the 2023 season, we watched these two cuddle and sleep in the tall grass while the sun fought through the misty skies to warm us and the grizzly bears.
We entered the Khutzeymateen this year looking forward to seeing some of the resident bears again, wondering what new bears might wander through the inlet, excited to see how much the cubs and subadults had grown, and of course holding our breath for any COYs (cubs of the year.) We were absolutely stunned to see five different grizzly sows emerge with COYs this year. For sows, the presence of cubs is a good indicator of the bear’s overall health when she heads into hibernation. If a sow doesn’t have enough fat come Fall, she’ll emerge with fewer or no cubs. The presence of so many COYs in the Khutzeymateen this year is no doubt a generally good sign for the health and growth of this population.
In addition to the COYs, we were lucky to observe resident boars, as well as a number of boars moving through the inlet on their way to the river, making for some interesting and exciting dynamics. On one particular day, a humpback calf swam right up the inlet, showing off it’s newly acquired breeching skills. While any given day in the Khutzeymateen is a gift, the first rule of bear watching is to always expect the unexpected. As we wave goodbye to the grizzly bears at the “Head of the Inlet” for another season, we pivot back into Chatham Sound and the mystery and awe of the surrounding whale population.
Prince Rupert Adventure Tours