Grizzlies - May 15, 1806

The hunters encountered so many grizzlies while the Corps was waiting out the spring thaw at Camp Chopunnish on the Clearwater River, that Lewis had good reason to expand upon his understanding of the grizzly bear. On May 15, 1806, he wrote:


These bears gave me a stronger evidence of the various coloured bear of this country being one species only, than any I have heretofore had. . . . The white and redish brown or bey coloured bear I saw together on the Missouri; the bey and grizly have been seen and killed together here for these were the colours of those which Collins killed yesterday.

In short, it is not common to find two bear here of this species presicely of the same colour, and if we were to attempt to distinguish them by their colours and to denominate each colour a distinct species we should soon find at least twenty.

They have attacked and faught our hunters already, but not so fiercely as those of the Missouri.

They bagged seven grizzlies during their month-long wait here on the west slope of the Bitterroot Mountains.