A mom and cub grizzly team.
A mom and cub grizzly team. Denali National Park/CC BY 2.0

Most of the time, wild grizzlies are independent creatures. New moms and cubs excepted, they tend to hunt alone, hibernate alone, and wander the forests solo.

But a week ago, a grizzly management specialist named Mike Madel was out bear-tracking in Montana when he found not two, not three, but thirteen grizzlies, all hanging out. “I don’t know if anyone has really observed that many bears together before,” Madel told the Great Falls Tribune.

The bears, mostly mothers and young cubs, seemed healthy and relaxed, bedding down in the snow in the foothills of a local ranch. Biologists across the state tried to figure out why they were so close together despite a lack of obvious draws, like a large quantity of food. One, Wayne Kasworm, speculated that it may have been a family reunion. “That’s at least one of the theories out there, [that] these bears have some relationship with one another in terms of [being] mother-daughter and possibly even grandmother,” he said.

But bears are mysterious creatures, and it’s tough to deduce their motives. Were they celebrating a bear holiday? Attending a conference? Grouping up to early vote? “Quite frankly,” Kasworm says, “we don’t know for sure.”

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.