Conservation Wildlife Management

Watch: Cyclist Dodges Grizzly Chasing Herd of Bighorn Sheep

The footage was captured in the rugged Kananaskis region, southwest of Calgary
Katie Hill Avatar
grizzly bear sheep cyclist
The cyclist was seconds away from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. / Instagram

On Oct. 3, photographer Bree Lion was parked at a trailhead in the Kananaskis region of Alberta when dozens of bighorn sheep ran across the nearby highway, over a floodwater ditch, and right at her car. The reason for their stampede, which she caught on camera, quickly became obvious. The sheep were being chased by a grizzly bear.

In the video, the herd of ewes and lambs mill around on the edge of the parking lot before the grizzly charges into the frame. The sheep quickly pivot to the left and loop back onto the highway, where a lone cyclist motors past the scene and narrowly avoids getting caught in the chase. The grizzly lumbers down the road and looks a little tired as the sheep drop down into the ditch on the other side. From there, they book it back down the road, cross again, and sprint up into the woods. The grizzly, clearly exhausted by now, slows to a stop and watches them take off before walking toward the trailhead parking lot.

“I’m grateful we were safely perched right beside the car inside the door, when the sheep turned our way,” Lion writes in the video’s caption. “Bears are super active right now as they prepare for winter.”

The grizzly bear population of Alberta was most recently estimated at just under 1,000 bears. Only 55 to 60 of those bears live in the Kananaskis region. Kananaskis, or “K-Country” as it is more fondly known, encompasses a roughly-1,600-square-mile expanse of foothills and mountains on the Rocky Mountain Front just west of Calgary. Banff National Park lies to the north.

Alberta is also home to around 9,000 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. They are the official provincial animal of Alberta and one of many trophy species that live in the region.

Most of the comments on the post focused on the cyclist, who almost got caught in the middle of a place no one wants to find themselves: the Rocky Mountain food chain.

“Dude on the bike has never pedalled harder,” one commenter wrote.

“That guy on the bike must have been having a heart attack,” said another.

Read Next: Grizzly Bear Kills Two Hikers and Their Dog in Banff National Park

As grizzly bears enter hyperphagia, they feed on practically anything they can get their teeth on. This includes bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and other ungulates, according to Parks Canada.

“Turns out, grizzlies can move pretty fast when they are chasing after prey,” Lion wrote. “Feeling like we got to experience something very special today that I won’t soon forget!”