This Grizzly Rushes to Defend a Mama Bear and Cub From an Aggressive Male Trying to Steal Their Lunch

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: October 6, 2022
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Grizzly bears often lead quite a solitary life, but they can be seen in groups when a big meal is at stake. This vid shows us what happened around a huge meal – a whale carcass sticking out of the water on a shoreline at Katmai National Park in Alaska. It has attracted the attention of several bears and because bears take their meals very seriously, this can lead to confrontation!

Bears Fighting Over a Whale Carcass

We learn that two adult males had been behaving in a domineering way around this carcass. This involved several physical displays of dominance including strutting around, chest-pounding, peeing, and jaw clicking. In the meantime, some other grizzly bears had taken advantage of the situation and had started to feed on the carcass. One was a sow bear and her cub who was about a year old.

Then, one of these males approaches the carcass and also starts to feed apparently unbothered by the female and cub on the other side of the whale. The situation deteriorates, however, when the second male approaches and he indicates that he is not so relaxed about the situation. He adopts a confrontational, side-stepping, strutting gait. The female notices this and backs away from the meal but he still chooses to lunge straight at her. Luckily, her reactions are quick and she is able to stay on her feet and defend herself. She puts up a brave fight but the aggressive male is a lot stronger than she is and she is pushed backward with each blow. Meanwhile, her cub keeps a safe distance.

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A Hero to the Rescue

But help is at hand! The second male piles in from the side and surprises the first male, getting him in a firm grip. In an epic struggle, they battle for supremacy with some impressive wrestling tactics. Watch out for a superb attempt at a ‘leg sweep’ as one bear tries to topple the other. You can see this better in the slow-motion replay at the end of the video.

Finally the two separate, but continue to move cautiously and slowly around each other. Bears interpret fast and sudden movements as a threat so these two guys are playing it super cool.

It is not unusual to see bears feeding at the water’s edge. Some grizzlies become very skilled at fishing for salmon. However, as we see here, bears are also happy to feed on carcasses of animals that they did not have to go to the effort of catching themselves!

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alexandra Giese/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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