by: Chase Dekker
Living in Jackson, WY has its perks, with the biggest being the abundance of outdoor activities at close hand. My favorite activity is searching the quietest corners of Grand Teton National Park for wildlife and whatever else I might find. Grand Teton plays host to many of North America’s charismatic species such as moose, elk, bison, wolves, and bears: black and grizzly. The other day, I was driving up an isolated road in the North section of the park and wasn’t having much luck finding anything. When I was tired and about ready to give up as the sun was just about to set over the Teton Range, I noticed a mother moose run out of the willows with twin calves in tow. I hadn’t yet seen a moose calf since my arrival in Jackson a week prior, so this was a real treat.
I got out of the car to get a better look when they started to run for the road. This is when I noticed they weren’t running because of me. Only about 150 feet away a grizzly bear tore through the willows and stood up on its legs to get a better look. I was ecstatic that I was watching a grizzly bear hunt. The moose ran across the road and the bear continued to pursue the group. I pulled my car forward, parallel of the bear and it looked as though he became a bit distracted, which allowed the moose to get safely over the flowered meadow hill and out of sight.
The bear looked as though it was not in any mood to waste much more energy chasing them and began to walk around only 60 feet from my car looked for another source of food. I watched the bear dig up roots and sniff around for over 10 minutes before it vanished into the forest. I have been searching since for this bear but have not found him or her since, but I’m hopeful the bear will show its face again soon.
When going out looking for wildlife, it is always important to not only be aware of what’s out there, but respect it as well. These animals, such as bears and moose, are extremely dangerous and could kill a person without even trying. It is a joy though, however, to find and see them in their natural habitat, and the biggest advice I have is to go out during dawn and dusk and to know where to look. For example, moose like swampy and willowy areas and bears like more open meadows and willows as well, so it will raise your chances to look in the spots the animals frequent instead of aimlessly driving around. However, most of wildlife watching is pure luck. I’ve had experiences where a bear walks across the road and is only visible for 10 seconds and if I was just 20 seconds later to the scene, I would have never seen it. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t find anything at first! The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll see, and that’s a guarantee!