A black bear was enjoying a meal of bison along a river in Yellowstone National Park recently when a grizzly bear happened upon the scene.
In most cases, the usual response would be for the black bear to flee and avoid a confrontation with the fiercer grizzly. But that’s not what unfolded before Ron Sterbenz as he videotaped the encounter.
Instead, the black bear ran the grizzly off. Sterbenz told USA Today/For The Win Outdoors that he might never capture an actual fight between a black bear and a grizzly, “but this was super close to it.”
Sterbenz, who regularly posts wildlife videos on his YouTube Yellowstone Video channel, described the encounter to USA Today/For The Win Outdoors:
“From time to time you see black bears avoid grizzlies by giving them some space or they take the other side of a pond, lake or meadow but have never seen black bear head straight towards a grizzly without sizing up the situation or challenge first. I had never seen black bear go head first into a possible confrontation. Size wise this is by far one of the largest male black bears I have seen and while the grizzly might be young he is still a pretty sizable bear.
“While recording I thought what I saw was black bear versus grizzly but wasn’t completely sure until I starting working on the video. Toward the end the grizzly starts urinating which I assume is scent marking and trying to show dominance, but I am not really sure what it meant and never saw a bear do that before. Some folks think bears are quick to conflict in the form of fight, but you can see that neither really wanted to risk that. Not sure if I will ever capture a full on black bear versus grizzly fight out there, but this was super close to it.
“A couple other things I took away from this event was that black bears are not nearly as passive as people sometimes think and in this case charged a grizzly not once but a few times. The other thing was how the grizzly really tested the other bear and backdown after bluff charges that failed. Might be a good thing to remember when confronted, as long as there isn’t a carcass between you and the bear. Personally, I prefer to watch from a safe distance and never find out.”