Curious Grizzly Bear Inspects Wildlife Photographer’s Camera
All too often, grizzly bears are thought of as mindless predators, dangerous brutes to be feared and fought against - but wildlife photographer Jim Lawrence hopes this photo might change people's minds.
Lawrence snapped this remarkable image of a bear examining his camera near his home in the Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada. He tells The Dodo that the photo, and the circumstances leading up to it, reflect a side to the species that is often overlooked.
"The grizzly in the photo was fishing for Kootenay salmon and making his way upstream. I set the camera up at an opening in the brush, thinking I'd get a photo of him across the way. I should [have] know better than to guess what a bear's going to do. He crossed to my side and scrambled up on the bank, at which point I dashed back to the truck to get another camera," says Lawrence.
"They say intelligent species are curious, and the big bear was no exception. He approached the camera cautiously, sniffing deeply, then stood up for a closer inspection. For the longest time, he studies the screen and the buttons, and then with a huge paw, gently tugged on the strap. The weight of the long lens caused the camera to pivot quickly upwards, startling the big fella at which point he kind of shrugged and went back fishing."
Since the bear photo was shared by CBC Radio Canada this week, it's been gaining momentum on social media. Lawrence says he's a bit perplexed by all the attention it's getting, but at the same time happy that the photo could raise awareness about an animal who's been misunderstood for so long, and at such a high cost.
"If the photo can help out the cause of the bear, then I'm all in favor," Lawrence tells The Dodo.
"The grizzly bears are having a hard time. They're losing ground terribly; their numbers are spiraling down. If this photo can help bring awareness to about their intelligence and about the importance of protecting their habitats, then I'm all in favor of this going around."
Grizzly bears once lived in a broad swath across North America, from the northernmost tip of Alaska down to central Mexico. Today, after more than a century of hunting, habitat loss, and other conflict with humans, the species now inhabits just a fraction of its former range.