06 Dec 16. Today's image is just a plain old snapshot but I'm sharing it to complement the narrative. Our favorite place in "downtown" West Yellowstone is the Grizzly and Wold Discovery Center of which we are members. Here you can go on a regular basis to watch grizzlies and wolves interact in a somewhat natural environment. I'll just speak to the bears for today. They currently have 8 animals but are building a much bigger larger enclosure to house more. The bears are kept out of sight in an underground enclosure where they are very well cared for, but are allowed outside in the viewing areas a couple times each day. The "viewing" area has a pond with waterfall, lots of trees and rocks, and other items with which the bears are free to use in play. They also have a "bear proof" program in which you can provide them with something you want certified as "bear proof" and they will test it for you by putting it in with the bears. The item is prepared with foodstuffs that the bears would normally try to acquire if they were to encounter such in the wild. The item must endure 1 full hour of bear "attention" without it being breached to be given the "bear proof" rating. Not many of the items tested have withstood one hour of attention by the bear(s). Many of those that tried and failed are displayed in one area of the center. The bears are let out into the enclosure for periods of one hour at a time, some solo who don't get along well with others, two groups of two and one group of three. Before they are let loose in the play area, workers place natural food stuffs under the rocks , logs, in the trees, or anywhere that would require the animals to hunt for them as if they were in the wild. It generally takes the full hour for everything to be accomplished which includes foraging for the foodstuffs, playing, and performing their testing chores on available items. It is always a treat to watch them and the compound is designed to keep us and the bears apart while still providing for opportunity to get good views and photographs of the bears in action. During one session each afternoon children under the age of 12 are allowed into the play area to hide the treats for that session. They are of course accompanied by Center employees who help the kiddies hid the food. I wasn't aware of the program until this last trip. While the kiddies place the food, I couldn't help but come up with the ides that they were the food. I offhandedly mentioned that to a lady standing next to me at the fence who just happened to be the mother of one of the kiddies. She cracked up and told the "story" to a couple of other who also found it rather funny. After the kiddies had finished doing their thing I wandered over to one of the employees who had been helping the kiddies and told her my story. She freaked out! Said, no, no, no, don't say things like that, we have enough problems with the tree huggers as it is!! All I said was bring'em on!!!! So today you get to see the food!!!!
This is a tight crop of the original that I then converted to B&W. Nikon D300s; 18 - 200; Aperture priority; ISO 400; 1/250 sec @ f / 7.1.