Want to Shoot Grizzlies? Here’s Just How Dangerous It Can Be

A grizzly bear is walking through the woods.

Grizzly bears may look too bulky and heavy to move quickly, but that’s a dangerously false idea. This recent video perfectly demonstrates why.

The grizzly, also often called the brown bear, and in Alaska, (as a subspecies) the Kodiak bear, almost universally looks bulky and even slightly clumsy or slow.

It absolutely isn’t any of these things.

These enormous carnivores can reach a weight of up to 1350+ lbs (600+ kg) and regardless of their often lazy-looking foraging habits, are capable of running at speeds in excess of 50km/h or 30 mph.

For a bit of comparison, even a fast, professionally trained human runner can rarely exceed speeds of 13km/h or just 8 miles per hour and isn’t nearly as agile as any bear over even slightly rough terrain.

In other words, despite their general aversion to humans, grizzlies are simply not to be taken lightly.

However, many wildlife photographers, both amateur and pro, would love to shoot them (on camera of course), and many do so successfully. Despite this, a reminder of just how quickly and violently these huge animals can react is always a good idea.

The following video offers exactly the perfect POV shot for giving anyone an uncomfortably direct idea of just what it would be like to have a 1300-pound grizzly pounce on you out of the blue, right when you’re getting comfortable filming it.

It was captured by photographer Aaron Teasdale, who set up his camera to remotely (luckily for him) record a 22-year-old male grizzly being rereleased into the wild.

The teddy in question had been causing trouble for ranchers and other distant human neighbors in the northern Whitefish mountains of Montana when it broke into several chicken coops.

Eventually, to steer both the bear and humans clear of a potential tragedy, the state’s Fish Wildlife and Parks service decided to trap and release the grizzly. Biologist Tim Manley was charged with the risky catch-and-release process but managed to pull it off smoothly.

The next step was to transport the fully-grown male brown bear to a more remote region of the mountains where it wouldn’t have much human contact.

Teasdale joined along for the ride but prudently decided that he “definitely wasn’t playing matador with a grizzly”. This is why upon arriving at the release site with the now very annoyed animal,  he set his camera near the cage with remote shooting activated.

The idea was that the bear would simply bolt from the cage as it opened up and haul himself straight off to the nearby creek.

Instead, as Teasdale explains in his Instagram post,

“He had his own idea which involved a bit of revenge on the damn humans with the audacity to trap him. Check out how he explodes from the trap as soon as the door is high enough. Then he almost takes his camera with him.”

And damn does the bear move fast while doing it. One second the camera is recording the cage opening from several meters away, and just seconds later, the bear is tearing the camera right down.

Had Teasdale been standing there, there’s a good chance it would have been his last photo shoot.

Bears generally avoid humans and also just want to be left alone when encountered outdoors. However, the wrong set of circumstances and a human photographer getting just a bit too close can easily combine to turn ugly very quickly.

The above video serves as a powerful reminder that also applies to all kinds of wildlife photography.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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