A few days ago, bearcam viewers alerted me to an interesting interaction at Brooks Falls where 32 Chunk appeared to displace 856.
I’ve taken some time to review bearcam footage of the subordinate bear in the video above, and I don’t think he is 856. The bear looks like an adult male, based on his size and the presence of scars around his face. I don’t recognize him, but I am willing to say it is not 856. Here’s why…
856 is a large adult male with blond ears and a long neck. This year he returned with a noticeable limp and sports a shed patch on his rump.
856 will fish at several different places in the falls—the jacuzzi, in the far pool, and near the rocks in between. When he sits at the rocks, he does so in a fairly distinctive manner.
When 856 fishes the jacuzzi, he’ll often leave that spot to eat near the island, almost sitting and facing away from the cam.
In contrast to these behaviors, the bear displaced by 32 Chunk doesn’t appear to be limping (and I’ll admit that bears can heal quickly, so the limp may not be very pronounced now). Both 856 and the unidentified bear may have similar wounds or scars on their face, the ears of the bear displaced by 32 Chunk are darker. The contrast between the unidentified male bear’s front quarters and hind quarters is also more apparent than 856. His muzzle appears blockier than 856, and 856 is very unlikely to play with 89 Backpack.
So was this a changing of the guard at Brooks Falls? Probably not. In my opinion, 32 Chunk displaced a full grown adult male, but the subordinate bear was not 856. However, in the absence of other large males like 856 and 747, 32 Chunk may be the most dominant bear on the river. Chunk clearly asserted his dominance over the unidentified male.
Almost every year, a new and fully mature adult bear shows up at Brooks River. Bears are creatures of habit, but they also remain flexible, changing their behaviors when necessary. The unidentified male may have never visited Brooks Falls before and never encountered 32 Chunk. His life up until now is a mystery, but these events are one reason why the story of Brooks River’s bears is so fascinating. This is a constantly evolving story. It will never become static.
View more photos of 856 from 2015 and 2016.
(Thanks to bearcam fan stmango for compiling many videos for me to review.)