I was snowshoeing along a 15 mile trail in Montana’s pristine wilderness when all of sudden…
…my imagination returned to reality. Okay, so I didn’t come across bears emerging from hibernation. Nor was I even snowshoeing. I was watching bears playing, lazing, and fighting up close at the Grizzly Encounter, a sanctuary located halfway between Bozeman and Livingston, Montana. Four bears now call this spacious mountain setting home, a welcome change from the caged life they were rescued from elsewhere in the US. Founded in 2004, the Grizzly Encounter provides a safe haven for bears born in captivity, and provides education about bear behavior and safety for those who hike, or snowshoe, in grizzly country.
160mm (full frame sensor), f/8, 1/750, 400 ISO for both shots above
The large bear is Brutus, a 9 year old, 800 lb. film star, who has appeared in small films and commercials, including National Geographic Channel’s Expedition Grizzly. The other bear is Sheena, a 25 year female, who may be smaller but is spunkier in spirit. She rules the roost according to her caregiver. The Grizzly Encounter is open Thursday through Sunday during the winter, and daily during summer months.
120mm (full frame sensor), f/6.7, 1/1500, ISO 400 for both shots
250mm (full frame sensor), f/6.7, 1/250, ISO 250