Coram wildlife photographer Sumio Harada captured dramatic footage of grizzly bears eating a dead bull moose on the shores of Lake Josephine in Glacier National Park.
Harada spent two days filming the bears and a host of other creatures attracted to the carcass on Oct. 4 and 5 with his wife, Kumi.
He said it appeared the moose had been dead about a week. When they saw it, most of the meat was gone.
Safely on the opposite side of the lake from the dead moose, Harada used a 4k video camera attached to a 600 mm Canon lens and a 1.4 teleconverter to capture the dramatic scenes as a sow and a cub grizzly, three other grizzlies, a wolf and a wolverine fed at or near the site. He said of the two days he spent watching the bears and the carcass, the wolf was there only a couple of minutes before the bears drove it away. A pair of coyotes also hung around and a flock of ravens were there as well.
It’s not clear how the moose died, but as bears fatten up for hibernation, a dead bull moose provides a big final meal. A mature shiras bull moose, the subspecies of moose that live in the Park, can weigh upwards of 1,400 pounds.
He said the sow grizzly in particular was very protective of the carcass and would fight against other bears to maintain her position at the moose remains.
Harada was sure to stay a safe distance from the dead moose. Bears can be very aggressive near kills. People have been badly mauled or even killed when accidentally running into grizzlies eating carcasses. Park rules state people must maintain a minimum 100 yard distance from bears at minimum. Harada was on the opposite site of the lake, he noted.
His camera and lens combination is equivalent to a 30x spotting scope. Lake Josephine is the Many Glacier Valley.
The south shore of the lake remains closed from the foot of the lake to the head of the lake because of the bear activity.
A native of Japan, Harada has been photographing wildlife in Glacier for the past 24 years. His work has appeared in National Geographic and many other publications.
Last July, Harada caught a grizzly bear capturing and eating a kid mountain goat using a similar camera setup. He often works in the winter in Glacier, enduring days on end of brutal cold to capture his images, camping in the snow.