Image © Roger Hayden - all rights reserved

Bear Tales

One Day I Met A Bear...

My Introduction to Grizzly Bears: Absaroka Mountains, 1974

By Louisa Willcox

If I had been moving any faster I would have plowed into the grizzly bear. By the time I stopped, I could have touched the bear’s soaked forehead. Braking with the downhill momentum of my eighty pound pack, I fell backward and down on my butt. The student on my tail bumped into the mountain of my pack. The bear chose the logical response: he wheeled, crashed through a creek, and vanished in the darkening woods.


Keystone Cops encountering a grizzly bear. We were supposed to be the experts in the mountains, certified “mountaineers”. Yet who was the expert here?

These kinds of bear encounters happen more than they should. Person does stupid thing, or bear does not hear or smell person due to crosswind or sound of stream, and both get closer than either is comfortable. Bear responds wisely and graciously almost all the time. Splits.

In the many years I worked at the National Outdoor Leadership School as a mountaineering instructor in the Rockies, Yellowstone, Alaska and other areas, it was a point of pride to be able to carry 80 pounds on your back. (In your macho 20’s, you don’t think of the surgeries you will need later). This was before the recent revolution of ultra-light gear. The downside of such heavy packs is that you become more zombie like, less observant, so more apt to disturb the wild animals you were there to see.

NOLS was famous for the long trails of head-down, weighted, military files through the mountains. It was amazing that we saw anything.

Now, grizzled and slowed by years, we search the woods for a glimpse of a rare bear disappearing from sight.  


Piikani Nation Treaty



Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the biology and ecology of grizzly bears. Authored by world-renowned bear biologist Dr. David Mattson, this site summarizes and synthesizes in beautiful graphic form the science of grizzly bears.


Find out how much Native Americans care about the grizzly bear, with a Grizzly Treaty that has been signed by more than 270 tribes, as well as numerous traditional societies and leaders. The document has become a symbol of international unity in defense of sovereignty, spiritual and religious protection, and treaty rights. 


For an in depth and comprehensive look at the ecology and demography of grizzly bears in the northern US Rocky Mountains, along with all the research relevant to conservation of these bears, see Mostly Natural History of the Northern Rocky Mountains.


GOAL is a coalition of nearly 50 tribes  (and counting) who object to the federal and state plans to delist grizzly bears prematurely and allow trophy

hunting of this sacred being.

GOAL advocates for the tribes'

legal right to meaningful consultation and also for the reconection of tribal peoples to their traditional homelands

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