Page 6 - Breath of the Bear
P. 6

While not as large as the Kodiak kings they still
                                             average 800-1200 pounds. Their diet is rich in
                                             salmon and they use many different tactics to
                                             catch the fish, including waiting at the bottom
                                             of the falls for the fish to jump, standing at the
                                             top  of  the  falls  and  catching  the  fish  in  their
                                             mouth as the salmon leap out of the water and
                                             even pinning the slippery fish to the rocks with
          There are several kinds of bears that a   their massive paws.               Scenic Bear Viewing
        traveler  will see in  Alaska and it helps to
        have a knowledge of the names as they are   All grizzly bears are brown bears but not all
        sometimes used interchangeably, though they   brown bears are grizzlies. Grizzlies are smaller
        differ in size and shape:            than the Kodiaks and coastal bears and can
                                             be found roaming the interior of  Alaska and
          The black bear is the smallest of the Alaskan   Canada,  and  down  into  Montana  and  Glacier
        bears, though small is relative in the bear family   National Park and Yellowstone Park.
        as this animal on average weighs 350 lbs, and
        though their name has the world “black” in it,   Up Close and Personal
        they can also be brown, gray and cream. A black   While popular conception has bears around
        bear can be distinguished from others as they   every tree trunk in Alaska, they can still remain
        lack a large shoulder hump and their profile is   elusive. However, there are some favorite sites
        that of a straight head and snout. Their rump   to  view these creatures in order to take that   Scenic Bear Viewing
        is higher than their shoulders and the ears are   framable quality photograph or just to spin
        longer and come to more of a point. The claws   a few bear-raising tales for the friends back
        are black and short giving them a great ability   home.
        to climb trees.  All bears are omnivores and
        opportunistic, meaning they will eat anything   Katmai National Park and Preserve
        that is available to them such as insects, berries,   Katmai  encompasses  over  4  million  acres
        fish, deer, moose and caribou. The yearly cycle   and is located on a peninsula in southern Alaska
        of all bears is the same. They emerge in the   across from Kodiak Island.  There are several
        spring from their dens hungry and ready to eat   active volcanoes in the area with the last major
        the first green plants that are springing up from   eruption occurring in 1912 with Mount Katmai
        the winter months. In summer they are feasting   and  Novarupta  erupting  simultaneously,
        on fresh berries and the salmon runs, putting   causing  a  pyroclastic  flow  that  covered  a
        on as much weight as possible. By fall there is   nearby valley with ash. As the volcanic deposits
        a mad dash to eat the dwindling food supply.   cooled  they  produced  steam  from  fissures   Scenic Bear Viewing
        Those that don’t  gain  enough  weight  by this   earning  the  name  “Valley  of  10,000  Smokes”.
        point risk starvation or being killed by other   Katmai gives the visitor a unique opportunity
        bears. As soon as the snow begins to fall most   to explore immense, untouched  wilderness
        bears are hibernating and mothers give birth to   and  volcanoes, as  well as opportunities for
        cubs inside the den.                 backpacking  and  camping.  It  is  Alaska  at  its
                                             finest. It is also here in Katmai where you can
          Adult brown bears are massive, powerful,   experience  up-close  and personal  Alaska’s
        the top  of the food  chain and  they  rule the   famous and massive brown bears. While the
        forests of Alaska with absolute authority. There   park is open year round it is remote and cannot
        is a good chance that you will see them on your   be accessed by car.
        trip as there are 32,000 brown bears in the state
        compared with 1200 in the lower 48. They are   Brooks Lodge & Falls   Fly-in
        solitary animals except for a mother with cubs   There  are  over  2,200  bears  in  Katmai  and
        and  when  they  are  fishing  in  the  same  area.   there is no better place to watch these amazing
        Browns are distinguishable from blacks by   animals  fish,  sun  and  congregate  than  at
        their large shoulder hump  which gives them   Brooks Falls. During the height of the salmon
        the strength to dig for roots and turn over   run in July up to 70 bears can be seen from the
        fallen trees and logs. They also have a concave   wooden platforms, each one wading into the
        face and long claws used for digging. Despite   water  with  its  own  unique  fishing  technique.
        their bulk they are very agile and can run up   Seeing these bears in the unspoiled beauty of
        to  speeds  of  30  miles  per  hour.  Like  blacks   the forest instinctively foraging for fish creates
        they can be found with coats that range from   unparalleled photography opportunities that
        cinnamon to blonde. In this classification there   will surely dazzle family back home.
        are some sub species:
                                               Most visitors to Katmai come to this area via
          The Kodiak is the granddaddy of brown   float plane, arriving on Naknek Lake as Brooks
        bears. Standing over 10’ tall on their hind legs   Lodge is one of the only developed areas in the
        and weighing up to 1600 pounds from a steady   park. There is a 60-person capacity campsite
        diet of grass, plants, salmon and berries, they   as well as cabins, cooking shelters with a fire
        are the largest terrestrial carnivores on earth.   ring  in each shelter,  food and  gear  storage
        About  3500  of  them  can  be  found  on  the   cache  and  an  electrified  fence  surrounding
        pristine Kodiak Archipelago, making it one of   the area. One of the most enjoyable ways to
        the most dense and popular bear-viewing sites   explore this area is through a guided tour with
        in Alaska.                           operators having both day and overnight trips
                                             available. A guided tour can add much depth
          The Alaskan brown bear or Alaskan coastal   to your Katmai travels and often includes sites
        bear comes in second to the Kodiak and can   and experiences you would not be able to have                  TM
        be found up and down the southern coast.   on  your own, as  well as the added safety of

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