Why male grizzlies participate in infanticide is still not entirely known to scientists.
The Smithsonian cites increased sexual opportunity as the main factor for why males often attack and kill a mother’s cubs, but others have floated cubs making an easy meal and a way to reduce competition for scarce resources as other hypotheses. Regardless of the why, it’s undoubtedly one of the darkest practices undertaken by these monster predators.
We got to see one of these scenes play out in Katmai National Park in Alaska thanks to a well placed web camera that streams bear activity on Explore.com and this one will really get your heart racing.
The video starts by showing a number of grizzlies looking for fish in a river (presumably Brooks Falls) before focusing in on a mother bear and two cubs. It’s clear the mother senses some danger and continues to corral her babies close to her, but it take a minute or so for us to see what exactly it is that she’s fearing.
Turns out, a giant, and I mean giant… male grizzly (known as a boar) was slowly making its way toward the family which naturally made the female (called a sow) quite nervous.
Female grizzlies are no small creatures, weighing over 450 pounds, but even they don’t hold a flame to the remarkable size of males. Growing up to 8 feet in length and weighing close to 900 pounds, there’s no question on who’s the more dominant of the sexes when it comes to grizzlies.
Unfortunately for this mother, the male that took an interest in her cubs was one of the bigger ones, but despite her obvious disadvantage, she held nothing back when it came to trying to protect her children.
She decides an offensive strategy is the best course of action and charges the larger bear while he’s still a little bit away, probably hoping to make it harder than expected to get to the cubs so he’ll turn away and try another family, but unfortunately, this male was here to stay. The mother and male go to all out war while the cubs run away into the trees for safety.
While she certainly held her own for a bit, the male ends up easily beating the mother, pinning her to the ground and seeming to get a good chunk out of her with his teeth. She continues the attack until she can’t handle it any more and moves back to regroup, but it’s at this point that the male makes his run at the cubs.
He races into the tree line to find the cubs, which we can’t see but we can hear, and it sounds horrifying.
Eventually a lone cub comes racing towards the camera with the male in hot pursuit, leaving it up to our imagination to figure out what happened to its sibling.
If I had to bet on it, I’d say their lives were cut short…
The brutality of nature being streamed to the world 24/7… what a time to be alive.