When you picture the most breathtaking nature scene you can imagine, what do you see? Maybe a gently babbling stream? Some lush greenery? A majestic mountain range providing the backdrop of a sunny day, clouds dotting a perfect blue sky? Maybe there’s even a bear or two. As Bob Ross would say, you can do anything, this is your world.
But wait – what’s happening? The bears are sprinting toward each other, meeting in the middle of the stream in a brutal battle.
While the real world is every bit as gorgeous as any imaginary scene, nature is also unpredictable and often ruthless. In a video shared by Old Row Outdoors, you can see two real-life bears snarling and roaring at each other as they fight their way through the otherwise calm water.
Holy cow pic.twitter.com/VmxrMDG5ZO— Old Row Outdoors (@OldRowOutdoors) September 2, 2022
Katmai Park Ranger Explains Why Bears Fight
It’s unclear why the carnivorous mammals are fighting. However, the initial aggressor seems to approach the other while he’s eating, so it could be a fight for food. As former Katmai park ranger and naturalist Mike Fitz explained in his book, The Bears of Brooks Falls, however, physical fights between bears are relatively uncommon.
“Although they will fight over food, dominance, and mating opportunities (the latter being restricted to males),” Fitz said, “most conflicts between bears are resolved without a physical fight but through a show of body size, body posture, and vocalizations.”
“Posturing is an important way for them to establish dominance,” Fitz continued. “An assertive, dominant bear approaches an opponent directly, often with a focused look and forward-facing ears. These bears will sometimes charge or run at their opponent.”
Though neither bear appeared critically injured from the altercation, the disagreement went far beyond posturing. In all likelihood, the aggressive bear wanted the other’s fishing spot and was willing to fight him for it.
Why Do Cubs Play?
Bear cubs get physical far more often than adults, but not because they’re more prone to disagreement. Instead, cubs can appear as though they’re fighting when they’re actually playing, similar to dogs and cats.
In fact, bear cubs play more than most animals, regardless of age. And believe it or not, scientists aren’t sure why. According to bear.org, research suggests that cubs play to stimulate brain development, improve their fitness, expend excess energy, and strengthen social bonds. Again, these reasons sound incredibly similar to your average pet.
Obviously, cubs aren’t trying to hurt each other during play. Nor do they roar, as adults do during a fight or even an intimidation attempt. Instead, cub play is quiet. And though a play session does involve bites and pawing, it’s all in good fun.
Once bear cubs reach 1.5 years of age, they leave the watchful eye of their mothers and their play-filled days behind. The only time play occurs among adults is through courtship, while playing with cubs, and when food is particularly abundant.