Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Salmon or trout?

While reading online about the Kokanee salmon run in Taylor Creek off of Lake Tahoe before our trip, I learned that bears in the area have a distinct taste for trout. In fact, one report said that its not uncommon for bears to catch trout in the creeks, but it was only recently (within the past few years) that select bears started capitilizing on the salmon run. We witnessed this preference first hand with the mother bear that we watched fishing in the creek.

Preferred meal

Just before catching this fish, she had a nice sized salmon in her jaws, and she had already eaten many by this point. However, she clearly got excited when she saw the trout and she dropped the salmon without eating it and lunged for this beautiful fish.

Carrying a trout

She had eaten most of the salmon on the rocks right in the stream, however, with this special prize it appeared that she didn't want to risk losing it back into the water and she quickly carried it up onto the bank before starting to eat. Her cub noticed what she was up to, and he definitely wanted in!

No sharing plates

Surprisingly, she was unwilling to share with the cub (at least at the current location) and ripped the fish out of its grasp while it tried desparately to hang on to the tasty meal, and she then carried it further away.

Sorry, cub

This time she went back up the hillside and out of view of the creek. The cub definitely stayed right behind while she went -- likely hoping for some scraps, and perhaps she decided to share once she was truly away from the chance of losing it back to the creek.

Over the hill

Here's a movie clip taken by my wife of the bear's decision to not eat the trout in the stream. You can see her hesitate at the rock where she was eating salmon, and when the trout really starts moving and she decides to take it to the shore.


  1. That's really interesting, Pat. I love that kind of observation.

  2. Yep, very interesting indeed. The scientist in you is coming out...

  3. Awesome stuff Pat. Also, just love how your wife gets the "making of shots". Also very interesting to see this mother catching the trout video, as I had a different viewpoint from the ledge up a ways!

  4. Thanks, everyone! It was definitely a fun thing to observe, since she was clearly excited about the trout.

    Tory: I liked the shot you have of the whole trout in her mouth as well, it really shows off how large that fish was. My wife took a handful of videos with her point and shoot while we were there, and they're pretty cool -- she even has one of the cub climbing back over the top of the salmon fence. Unfortunately uploading them for streaming reduces the quality pretty substantially though.