View from the bush plane looking down on Hallo bay in Katmai National Park, Alaska. The five tiny dots in the meadows, bottom right of photo, are grizzly bears. Looking from above you can really see the two types of grass that grow in Katmai’s coastal meadows. Where the bears are standing is sedge grass, surrounded by the taller grass which the bears never eat.
Archive for the Alaska Category
You have to fly by bush plane to reach Katmai National Park. On the coast, most planes take off and land right on the beach. Although the grizzly bears in the area have gotten used to airplanes, planes do generate quite a bit of temporary noise pollution while taking off and landing that can disrupt bears’ ability to use hearing while hunting for salmon. Other animals such as foxes use their hearing to hunt rodents.
The impact of day trippers viewing bears should be taken into consideration as tourism continues to grow in Katmai National Park. There are great benefits to bear viewing – seeing grizzlies in the wild is the best way to break stereotypes about their behavior. Every tourist that visits soon realizes that grizzlies are not monsters, but rather intelligent and predictable animals. However, turning a beach into a runway may have negative consequences.
Grizzly bear tracks are found all over this tiny uninhabited island off the coast of South Central Alaska. During low tide bears can swim to the island which is a nesting ground for birds. Once on the island, they can gorge on eggs from puffins and gulls. Click here to read about my day trip to this island.
A congregation of grizzly bears fishing for salmon in late summer. Large groups of grizzlies will fish side by side during salmon runs. Although they sometimes squabble over fish, most of the grizzly bears interact with each other peacefully.
It is also a myth that the largest grizzly bears dominate the fishing spots. I’ve observed countless times large males fishing side by side with sub adults and smaller female bears. In one interesting incident, a female mother bear intimidated a much larger male who had taken over her preferred spot. Read about this grizzly bear encounter here.
Various news reports have surfaced about a bear that was senselessly killed during the production of the Discovery Channel Show Gold Rush Alaska. It appears that the production crew wanted to stage a bear killing regardless of the reality of their interactions with bears in the wild. Read more about this senseless killing here and here.
This incident highlights the disparity between actual bear behavior and popular perceptions of bears as violent killers. Since the wild bear in this incident actually wasn’t a violent threat, the show lost the drama they wanted to create using stereotypes about bear’s violent behavior. A bear’s life was lost so that false perceptions of bears could be further disseminated to the public.