Bear Cubnaping

A hulking mother brown bear glares from her den at four intruders...who have climbed a Kodiak mountain to try to catch her cubs for exhibits at a zoo
August 29, 1954

A craggy Island off the southern coast of Alaska is the home of the Kodiak bear. One day last spring a yacht which carried a hunting party made up of Leo Pavelle and Mr. and Mrs. Jim Nash of New York and Walter Stocklin of Philadelphia, lay at anchor below one of Kodiak's sheer mountains. A guide on deck saw a bear with three cubs on a ledge high above. Four guides were quickly dispatched to make a search for the den. Their orders: bring back the cubs unharmed.

Two hours later, after rowing ashore and making a careful stalk to the heights, the men reached a point where they could watch the now-empty ledge area below. They counted on being above the den, for a bear seldom charges uphill. Soon their scent drifted to the bears' hideaway and with a roar the old lady revealed herself below them. She thrust her head above ground to stare at the guides nearby.

Suddenly the animal advanced toward them, to pause 10 feet away. Guide Grisha snatched off his hat, flung it at the bear's head. She whirled and bolted for her den. Later a pair of dirty socks in a knotted bandanna was lowered into the den. At this the bear took off downhill.

Grisha crawled into the den, collared the rambunctious cubs one by one and handed them out. They now can be seen at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

PHOTOHY PESKINTHE FRIGHTENED BEAR races away down the mountain as a relieved guide, who had been prepared to shoot, watches from the den site. The animal (at right in background) never looked back, never paused in its flight. Finally it disappeared among trees. PHOTOHY PESKINGUIDES SIMMY, GRISHA AND NICK (FROM LEFT) LISTEN TO CUBS AT DEN. SOON GRISHA CRAWLED IN FOR THEM PHOTOHY PESKINSQUALLING CUBS, handed out one at a time by Grisha, go protesting into bags for trip back to the boat. Two months old, the little bears weighed around 20 pounds apiece, had to be handled like kittens by the scruffs of their necks. PHOTOHY PESKINCharlie Madsen, veteran guide and skipper of hunting boat "Kodiak Bear," hefts an angry cub. He has sent more than 80 to zoos as a side line, must get government permission to fill each order. At left, he maneuvers cubs into cage where they soon learned to get along on Pablum and milk.