A Wild Moment

Defenders of Wildlife’s 2012 Photo Contest

by Brian Bovard

James Yule grand prize winner

Grizzly Bear, © James Yule, Winner of the Defenders 2012 Photo Contest

Patience, patience, patience. That is what James Yule—grand prize winner of Defenders of Wildlife’s 2012 photo contest—says was the key to his success in photographing this baby bear cub riding on its mother’s back. Having seen her and her cub earlier that day and knowing this meadow was a favorite of hers, Yule took a chance and hurried ahead hoping she would stop. After patiently waiting in the snow and cold for more than an hour, he reaped his reward when the bears sauntered into the clearing. With the year’s snow levels still high in May, Yule knew it wouldn’t be long before the little cub would climb aboard for a ride. To not disturb the bears and to keep a safe distance, he used a long telephoto lens that allowed him to blur the background and draw the viewer’s eye right to the mother and cub. Especially notable is the all-too-human expression on the mother’s face as she waits for her cub to get settled. Yule loves the “cuteness factor” of the photo and admits that despite its simple composition he entered it in the contest because of the emotional response it provokes. The photograph certainly struck a chord with our judges, who chose it as a finalist for our online poll. Garnering 20,854 votes, Yule secured the grand prize and earned an all-expenses-paid photography tour in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks with renowned professional wildlife photographer and Defenders contributor Jess Lee. A native of Wyoming, Yule has always been proud of the wildlife conservation legacy of his state. A frequent visitor to Yellowstone, he has developed relationships with many of the park’s employees and is a voice for better methods to reduce human and bear conflicts in the park. At the close of this year’s photo contest with nearly 8,000 submissions, we again were blown away by the caliber of the photographs entered. Each year the challenge of selecting the finalists is more difficult. We thank everyone who participated and offer up, for your viewing pleasure,

To see more photos from other top contenders, visit the 2012 Defenders Photo Contest Gallery.

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Throughout my life, I have felt a keen sense of wonder for the array of wildlife around me and the role that it plays in keeping our planet alive and functioning—from the iconic grizzly bear that keeps prey in check and eats his weight many times over in insects