Skip to content

Grizzly sow and cubs captured on trail camera southwest of Sundre

Camera give Municipal District of Bighorn property owners rare and unique glimpse into wild animals and their behaviours

SUNDRE – Although he rarely ever personally sees any of the predators that frequently travel through his land, a rural property owner’s trail cameras have captured no shortage of stunning images of animals like grizzly bears and cougars since being installed several years ago.

Marc Clement lives on nature’s doorstep about half an hour southwest of Sundre with wife Terri-Lynn on a rural property barely more than a kilometre in the Municipal District of Bighorn that neighbours against a parcel owned by family as well as Crown land.

He said he mounted the solar-powered, motion sensor-activated trail cameras about five years ago mostly out of an interest born of recreational curiosity.

The two trail cams he installed are only about a short, five-minute walk from their home, yet the devices offer a rare and unique glimpse into the wild animals – and their behaviours – that the Clements don’t tend to see from their windows or backyard.

“Typically, you’ll see them on camera but you won’t see that animal (in person),” Marc told the Albertan earlier this month during a phone interview, referring primarily to predators such as bears and cougars.

“They don’t want to have any altercation,” he said, adding there can of course be exceptions such as inadvertently ending up between a mama bear and her cubs or stumbling upon a den, situations he’s yet to encounter.  

Aside from the fact the animals are generally just travelling through the area and don’t hang around for long, the Clements also have a couple of well-trained labs who protect the perimeter and aren’t shy about giving chase to any potential threats.

But their dogs generally know when to have their guard up and won’t bark or give chase to animals like moose, he said.

“They just go, ‘Wow, that’s a big animal,’” he said, adding the moose in return doesn’t particularly seem to mind their presence.

The solar-powered units that he described as “rock solid” also function well throughout the winter despite the short days, he said.

Some of the species included among a selection of highlights from the many images his cams have captured over the years include moose, deer, elk, coyotes, cougars, as well as grizzly bears.

“I get a kick out of it,” he said. “I’m like a little kid when I go and get these pictures; I just can’t wait to get back to my computer. It’s like, what’re you going to see this time?”

Most recently, a grizzly sow travelling with a couple of cubs was captured by one of his cams on the evening of July 26.

When friends see pictures of predators taken by his cameras, they often incredulously express a blended mix of surprise and concern that Marc ever dares venture out into the woods by his place.

But he reiterated the fact predators are more often than not wary of crossing paths with any humans, and that his trusty canine companions help sniff out and ensure any curious carnivores vacate the area before long.

“We haven’t had any altercations,” he said.

“My in-laws have 80 acres here, which we’re kind of next to, so those trails cams are on their property,” he said. “But right on the edge where the grizzlies were taken, that’s Crown, and there’s like nobody out there.”

A few hunters will occasionally make their way through during hunting season, “But other than that, it’s a pretty good little wildlife corridor.”

Asked how often his trail cams have captured images of grizzlies, Marc said they had seen some of the bears since earlier in the spring up throughout the summer.

In 2020, one of the cams captured a couple of mating grizzlies “going at it,” he said.

“I should have sent it to National Geographic,” he added with a laugh.

The closest calls they’ve experienced to date, he said when asked if there had ever been any conflicts with predators and either livestock, pets, or themselves, involved a bluff charge from a moose and a cougar that was deterred by the dogs.

“We’ve had it where the moose has come charging at us, but she’s gone into the bush,” he said.

There was also an instance when a large feline that he presumed to be a bobcat was flushed out of the bush by one of his dogs. The predator proceeded to run directly toward him before quickly darting back into the bush, he said.

“They were in hot pursuit,” he said about his dogs giving chase, adding he’d never seen them so exhausted.

“They were bagged,” he said, adding he wasn’t sure whether they ever saw that particular cat again.

Accompanied by man’s best friend and equipped with the knowledge that predators with few exceptions don’t really present themselves to people if the animals can at all avoid it, Marc – who is a hunter – expressed confidence about walking around the property unarmed.

“I don’t walk with bear mace and a shotgun,” he said, adding he’s never felt any particular cause for immediate concern and that he has no plans to deliberately go looking for trouble anyway.

“I won’t be petting their cubs!” he said, followed by laughter.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks