I recently put together a video with some footage of a rare and exciting event that I witnessed last June on the coast of Katmai, where I guide the Natural Habitat Ultimate Grizzlies Expeditions. The drive to reproduce is strong with bears, and can result in incredible displays of violence. Notice before and after the fight, the strange mannerisms and body language used by the bears. The exaggerated strut they display is called the “cowboy walk,” which is intended to make a bear look as intimidating as possible. Scent communication is involved as well, in the form of excessive urination. Also note the incredible amount of saliva produced when the bears are angry.
Female bears keep their cubs for 3 or 4 summers in this region, so there is a limited number of single, available females during the early summer mating season which takes place in June and early July. Male bears struggle to pass on their genes in a highly competitive environment and the biggest and toughest bears are rewarded with the most opportunities to mate. This results in a dramatic difference in size between males and females, also known as sexual dimorphism. Males are nearly twice the size of females, and can reach up to 1600 lbs!
Size isn’t everything though, as there is considerable technique needed to fight successfully. Notice in the video how this fight is similar to a wrestling match. Male polar and grizzly bears spend a great deal of time and energy honing their skills through sparring, especially during their sub-adult years (4-9 years old.) Click here to see a previous post about sparring polar bears.
While we were on our way to Botswana last month, we stopped in Johannesburg and met up with the folks at Aquavision, who produce a series called Caught In The Act, which has featured my wildlife footage a few times in the past. They selected this clip, and did my interview while I was in town. Ill let you guys know when it aires on NatGeo Channel in the near future.