iN PHOTOS: Okanagan wildlife photographer gets surprise from favourite bear | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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iN PHOTOS: Okanagan wildlife photographer gets surprise from favourite bear

A female black bear with three cubs is seen in the south Okanagan.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Curtis Zutz Nature Images

A wildlife photographer in the South Okanagan has been watching and photographing the same bear for the past four years as it has gone from a cub to a mother.

Until this spring, Curtis Zutz had been calling the bear Victor, because of the distinct and unique ‘V’ shape on the bear’s chest. After returning home from wintering in Mexico he had to change the bear’s name to Victoria.

“I was thinking about (the bear) while I was in Mexico,” Zutz said. “I went back to the same spot when I got home and thought it would be nice to see that bear, and there she was with three cubs. That’s going to be a challenge for her. First time mom and she gets three of them.”

A bear with a distinctive marking has grown up in the south Okanagan and is pictured here as a young bear in 2021.
A bear with a distinctive marking has grown up in the south Okanagan and is pictured here as a young bear in 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Curtis Zutz Nature Images

Zutz started his photography hobby several years ago when he and his wife went travelling and he borrowed some good lenses. He got hooked on photography and focusses mostly on birds, but has captured a number of other wildlife species when they "wander through.”

He gets up at 4 a.m. and drives to a location where he waits quietly for hours while the sun comes up.

“I go to this one area almost every day and sit in my chair and I just wait,” he said. “There is water there and animals come to drink. I’ll see birds, coyotes, bobcats and bears.”

In 2021. it was a particularly hot summer in the South Okanagan and wildlife was coming to drink water at Zutz’s photography spot every morning.

“This particular bear came almost every morning, it’s really distinctive with the ‘V’ shape on the chest and a folded over ear,” he said. “She was just the most mellow bear. Now that she has cubs I’m going to trust her a lot less, you have to give wildlife their space.”

He watched the bear grow bigger and change from a cinnamon colour to a dark brown every season when it shed its winter fur.

“Last year, it was this time and early in the morning I saw her right away and there were two bears following her. I started thinking she’s a female and going into heat.”

Zutz lives just outside Oliver and winters in Mexico. It is important to him he doesn’t disclose the locations of his wildlife subjects because of poachers and because he doesn’t want wildlife to be surrounded by photographers and stressed out.

“We’re all guilty of it, you see an interesting animal and start approaching it. I sit in the bush and wait. Everyone gets caught up in the moment but you have to think of the well being of the animal.”

You can find more of the Curtis Zutz photography work here.

This female black bear is raising three cubs in the Okanagan.
This female black bear is raising three cubs in the Okanagan.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Curtis Zutz Nature Images

A young female black bear in the south Okanagan goes to drink at a watering hole in late fall, 2021.
A young female black bear in the south Okanagan goes to drink at a watering hole in late fall, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Curtis Zutz Nature Images

A young female black bear in the south Okanagan goes to drink at a watering hole in late fall, 2021.
A young female black bear in the south Okanagan goes to drink at a watering hole in late fall, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Curtis Zutz Nature Images

A young black bear near Oliver has a dark brown summer coat.
A young black bear near Oliver has a dark brown summer coat.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Curtis Zutz Nature Images

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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