Who ARE Grizzly Bears?

 “The safest forests are the forests where bears do not fear people.” (guest post)  

All text and photos by guest author Ellie Lamb

Based on thousands of private hours with bears, spanning 18 years of guiding people into the back country, bears have shown me their intimate world, along with many of the secrets they hold so dear. Bears are just waiting for someone to listen to them; to hear their truths and their stories.  A man who understood bears better then anyone I know once said to me that the only thing that separates him from others when it comes to bears is that he listens to them.  We must listen to them too, not the stories from people who don’t know these animals or somehow benefit from perpetuating mistruths about them, but to the bears themselves. A bear’s language is clear; they do “talk” and tell us what they need. By not listening to them we get them in trouble – and we get in trouble ourselves…

Here is what I have learned about bears; They are beautiful, sentient beings who are extremely large in personality, polite, and even empathetic. They have a keen sense of community, and are not as solo and independent as people have suggested. They are peaceful, thoughtful, emotionally intelligent animals.  They are trustworthy, especially true with a mother and her cubs.  Mother bears love their kids.

Bears have a jolly sense of humour, curiosity and compassion. They build their worlds in a way that makes great sense and have thoughts of beauty in doing so. They are born into a comfort with the human animal and no one knows why. If they become fearful of people, it is often because of a history they have had with people. Under negative conditions, fear promotes aggression and unpredictability in both bears and humans, thus the safest forests are the forests where bears do not fear people. Our fear of bears is their biggest problem. For the safety of all in the future I believe our respect for these animals needs to replace the culture of fear that surrounds them. Historically it is where our relationship started, and it is where we need to shift our intentions.

Bears have taught me that they differentiate perfectly well between people, and places.  How they are towards one person generally depends on the history they have with that one individual. Bears can be very different in how they react towards each of their relationship.  They build community with other bears and other animals, including humans. Bears have a great sense of memory, remembering in detail everything they are told, taught and experience.  Significantly,  they do not generalize as much as people think, and read intention beyond any other animal that I know. 

Grizzly bears are amazing beings with whom we are graced to share the world.

…that’s who they are.IMG_6025

Ellie Lamb is a British Columbia, Canada, bear viewing guide, and wildlife bronze artist specializing in bears.  For 18 years, Ellie has been guiding people into the back country of the Great Bear Rainforest and Tweedsmuir Park, to experience grizzly bears on their homeland.  The focus of her work is education, which she believes is the way forward to improving the treatment, understanding and protection of grizzly bears.  The tenor of her work reflects her friendship with teachers such as Ian McAllister, Charlie Russell, Qwatsinas, and with the grizzly bears themselves.

Ellie is a Director on the following Boards:

  • The Grizzly Bear Foundation (Vancouver BC)

  • North Shore Black Bear Society (North Vancouver, BC)

  • Get Bear Smart Society (Whistler, BC)

For the story of a personal relationship between Ellie and a grizzly bear named Queenie, see:  https://justiceforbcgrizzlies.com/2018/12/14/queenie-a-personal-relationship/



3 Comments Add yours

  1. tony brumell says:

    Thanks for your column Ellie.I’m sure that you are referring to Charlie and I certainly agree.He was a personal friend for 25 years back to his days in the Kutzamatine and the Ocean Light and mouse creek bear.I have video of Charlie inspecting her teeth and mouth with his hand.Amazing and revelatory. Then of course he and Maureen went to Princess Royal is. with Jeff and Sue and Chelsey Turner and I have some great footage of them all.
    Ian’s work has also been expansive and revelatory but I amnot as familiar wit as I am with Charlie.
    Another person you might like to contact who was also agreat friend of Charlies and went to Russia with them is Mike McIntosh of Bear With Us rehab in Ontario.I know Mike well but have not seen him since Charlie was here.(IN Kamloops )
    I talked to Charlie last Jan and all seemed well with no mention of any dark clouds. I do miss him dreadfully.So I am realy happy to read your article .


    1. Ellie says:

      Hi Tony,
      Thank you for your comments. Beautiful, another dear friend of Charlie’s. So appreciate your suggestions and always felt that Mike was also a special man with great understanding… Great confirmation on that. Yes, I too miss him dreadfully.
      Love that he spent time with so many and just told the truth. This is what I encourage everyone that knows bears to do, tell the truth of their experience.
      Cheers Tony❤️
      I hope we meet one day.


      1. tony brumell says:

        You have a lot of support in Kamloops and we are not that far away.I would be happy to set up a public forum so you could inform the public about the importance of the mega fauna throughtout B.C.I did so for Charlie and Mike twenty years back for a standing room only event.It was a magic evening.I am sure that the naturalists and the fish and game clubs would be interested. Let me know and maybe we will meet.


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