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This image was inspired by a friend’s photo of brown bears taken in Katmai Park AK. The cubs are quite small so this would be in spring to early summer. These little guys will stay with their mother for almost two years and won’t reach their full size for another four years. Even the most hardened city-dweller knows about the bond between a mother bear and her cubs. The mother’s extreme protective instincts aren’t unfounded, especially concerning large boars, which will attack and kill cubs. She may be swimming ahead right now but her ears are cocked, listening for the paddles and grunts from the swimmers just behind her. Getting accustomed to water is not just play time for the young cubs. From late-August to mid-September, the sockeye salmon are spawning in the Brooks River at Katmai National Park and the bears are in and around the water eating fish for weeks, putting on the pounds and fat in preparation for November hibernation. - DS