Watch This Grizzly Bear Dominate a Massive Elk in the Middle of a River

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Written by Maxwell Martinson

Updated: November 9, 2023

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Grizzly Bear Jumping
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Prologue to the Video

The featured video is slow, grim, impressive, and beautiful all at once. If you were to swap yourself with the elk in this video, the experience would undoubtedly rank among your worst nightmares. From the perspective of someone who marvels when large species interact, the video is a little bit mesmerizing.

The Context, The Chase, and The Result

Youtuber BE Judson states in the video description that he noticed a bull elk and a few cows feeding at dawn. One can imagine the light creeping into the pasture along with scattered birdsongs. It’s a peaceful image, which is why Judson says he was startled by what happened next.

A large bull elk burst onto the scene and headed straight toward the Yellowstone River, eventually entering it and slowing its pace considerably. He makes some headway crossing the river and gets about a quarter of the way across when a lumbering grizzly barrels its way through the brush and into the water.

Grizzly bear

Grizzly bears are apex predators with a keener sense of smell than a dog.

It’s immediately clear that the bear cuts through the water faster than the elk does, and we watch a slow advance that can have only one outcome. As the distance between the two animals shrinks to a crucial point, the elk turns back to defend itself but it’s too late.

It’s clear that it’s over once the grizzly latches on. The strength of the animal is enough to take down the elk with ease, but the next challenge is pivoting to the riverside to start feeding. A large piece of this video shows the grizzly wading through the Yellowstone River trying to manage the carcass of a full-grown bull elk.

This spectacle really displays how dynamic and dramatic the natural world is, and it serves as a reminder to bring bear spray the next time you enter Grizzly Country!

Grizzly bear on cliff

Grizzly bears are commonly found in Yellowstone Park.

The Hayden Valley of Yellowstone

The Hayden Valley of Yellowstone is one of the best places in the country to view large animals in their wild habitat. Yellowstone, in general, is an excellent place to encounter wildlife like elk, moose, and massive grizzly bears.

The entire park is peppered with animals that most visitors wouldn’t normally see. These are wild animals existing as they always have in nature, and that means that entering the park comes with great risk.

Fortunately, the person filming the video below had the wherewithal to stand still and turn the camera on. The Hayden Valley sits between Yellowstone Lake and a rugged sprawl of mountains to the north. A few creeks run through the valley along with the great Yellowstone River, and the surrounding geography turns the stretch into something of a funnel.

Elk traveling south toward Yellowstone Lake have an easier time traversing through Hayden Valley than they would if they took their chances elsewhere. The same is true for all animals there, however, so there is a healthy balance of predators and prey.

Brown Bear Close Up

Grizzly bears are omnivores. While most of their diet is plant-based, they also eat fish, small mammals, and some large prey such as elk.

How Large Do Grizzly Bears Get?

Grizzly bears have a height ranging from 3 to 5 feet when on all fours. When they stand on their hind legs, some can reach up to 8 feet in height. Their weight can vary between 180 and 900 lbs.

Furthermore, in Alaska, the largest recorded grizzly bear ever was captured. It was a male bear, taken down by hunter Larry Fitzgerald during a guided hunt in the Alaskan wilderness. It weighed a staggering 1,600 pounds and stood over 10 feet tall on its hind legs!

Is It Normal Behavior for a Grizzly Bear to Attack an Elk?

Yes. On the menu for grizzlies are elk and deer. As omnivores, they will eat anything that looks good. Salmon is a favorite, but they will even eat small mammals like mice and berries because they need as much as 90 pounds of food each day. Consequently, a large animal like an elk supplies much of what the bear needs.

The grizzly bear is a large animal that can weigh 900 pounds and grow to 8 feet tall. It has great muscular strength and large, sturdy, curved claws that can do severe damage to prey. As evidenced in the video, grizzlies also have speed as an attribute: they can run as fast as 35-40 mph!

A brown grizzly bear churning up water as it runs through it.

The grizzly bear has great speed, even when running in water, which helps when it is chasing salmon.

With all these hunting advantages, a grizzly can dare to attack an large animal. It will normally kill with multiple bites that damage the prey’s spine. There will be a struggle if it is a large prey, but the bear will win and then carry or drag its kill to cover.

As seen in the video, the bear has to drag its prey out of the water to be able to eat it on dry ground, preferably where there is cover. It will most likely then bury the carcass.


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About the Author

Hi! I'm Max and I'm a writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I've been freelancing for more than five years and love the freedom and variety that this profession offers. Animals are also a big part of my life, and a lot of my time is dedicated to playing with my cat, Herbie.

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