The Boss – Banff Grizzly Bear No. 122 – provides a ridiculously exciting grizzly bear encounter

March 8, 2016

I saw the news yesterday – grizzly bear no.122, aka ‘The Boss’, has emerged from his den in Banff National Park. This iconic bear has earned his reputation through his massive 300kg frame and fathering at least five of the park’s bears.

It just so happens he is also responsible for one of my most memorable grizzly bear encounters ever…

July 11, 2014 – My friend Paul – Turbos Track and Tour – and I were out enjoying an unusually productive drive on the 1A. We had already seen a healthy black bear, a large male elk with beautiful velvet antlers and a black wolf pup – yes, you read that right – a wolf pup! No pics. Adding to our good fortune was a beautiful grizzly with a very pronounced hump feeding in a field of dandelions.

This light-faced beauty was clearly visible from the highway and had attracted a large audience. We pulled over and joined the crowd of onlookers and photographers. My lens was focused on the dandelion-eating bear when I heard some commotion to the left. A large dark figure materialized in my peripheral vision – I quickly moved my lens and found myself focusing on another grizzly bear!


This big brute of a bear was on a mission. This was his dandelion field.  His intense gaze revealed a steadfast need to protect his territory.


The large bear darted towards the interloper, like a missile locked-on to its target. Knowing a confrontation with the large male would not go in her favor, the light-faced grizzly bolted out of the field. The male grizzly, who I learned later was The Boss, retreated back into the trees, almost as quickly as he had appeared.

The encounter lasted mere seconds. Feeling high from an amazing morning of wildlife viewing, Paul and I Ieft the scene and completed our 1A run. About an hour later, we drove by the dandelion field again and there was the light-faced beauty munching away. She was not deterred long from such a plentiful source of nutrition.

I’m so grateful for this quick glimpse into grizzly behavior. I’m slightly disappointed in the quality of the photos, but the memory is burned into my brain forever. You can also read Paul’s account of the day here.

A few notes:

  • The images above are significantly cropped – we were a safe distance away.
  • I have to admit I can’t be 100% sure this grizzly was no. 122. I could only see the bottom of the numbers on the tag when zoomed in on the photo. However, based on this and a conversation I had with a very knowledgable friend, I’m pretty darn sure!
  • I have referred to the other grizzly as a ‘she’ but I do not know the sex. I just don’t like calling animals ‘it’ and saying ‘he or she’ is awkward so I like to use the pronoun that ‘feels’ right.

Until next time, continue loving life and all things wild 🙂


  1. Nelda Sheffield

    In August of 2012 we were on Hwy. 93 about 3 miles south of Marble Canyon Campgrounds when we spotted a large grizzly. We pulled over and watched this bear for more than a half hour. No one else stopped. He was eating berries and roots and a few times came within 30 ft. of our van. He totally ignored us. We got some great pics and video. He finally crossed the river and went into the woods on the other side. A closeup of our video showed a tag in his ear. We contacted the ranger, and she told us he had been tagged that spring and they had named him Brazil nuts because of his long white claws. Having him all to ourselves was one of the highlights of our trip. Of course , later his name became “The Boss”. We would love to post our video but don’t know how to or where!

    • Kerri Martin

      Amazing story – thanks for sharing 🙂


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