Brown bear watching and wildlife tours on the wild coast of Katmai National Park in Alaska.
Brown bear watching & wildlife tours on the coast of Katmai National Park, Alaska
Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
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Bear watching in the KatmaiRogers described a typical setting. “The skiff brought us ashore after a great breakfast on the boat and a quiet night in the calm bay.  Flocks of puffins, scoters, and murrelets parted in front of the skiff, and the watchful heads of harbor seals and sea otters dotted the water.  Overhead, eagles and gulls searched the water for leftovers provided by the seals and otters.  On shore, we walked a couple hundred yards inland, passed a red fox den while the parents watched, and climbed a grassy rise to scan for grizzlies on the sedge flats around us. We counted 31 including cubs.  Some were grazing.  A male and female were sitting quietly after a bout of playing and attempted mounting. It was June—mating season.  Mothers with this year’s cubs watched the other bears nervously.  A mother and yearling dug clams where low tide exposed a mud flat beside a stream. We joked that we must be crazy to be standing unarmed in the middle of so many grizzly bears, but the truth is that I have never felt the slightest bit threatened by these bears.  We saw a mother I knew, a beautiful blond mother whose fur glowed in the soft northern light.  Her cub from this year was nestled beside her, and she was resting with her chin on a piece of driftwood.  As we walked toward her, sandpipers flew up from the short sedges ahead of us and wild tundra swans walked out of our way.  My group quickly lost their fear when they saw how the bears reacted to us.  These timid animals were certainly not the aggressive beasts that grizzlies are usually portrayed to be.  Our focus became how to behave so as not to scare them.  We made wide detours around bears that looked nervous.  We didn’t want to make them change their behavior.  But we knew the blond mother had a calm personality and would go about her business with us nearby.  She lifted her head and watched as we approached.  We stopped when she looked away as if thinking about leaving.  The same mothers that ferociously charge intruding bears will retreat from brash humans, but some bears like this mother will ignore small groups that act nonaggressive.  We lay down on the lawn-like sedge flat.  She dropped her head back onto her driftwood pillow and closed her eyes.  She regarded us as non-threatening.  A half hour later, she got up and began grazing toward us unconcerned.  Her cub pranced over to within 30 feet and stood on its hind legs, waving its arms to keep its balance as it watched us lying there.  About the size of a cocker spaniel, the fuzzy cub stole everyone’s hearts as we clicked and videoed it against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.  The mother woofed, and the cub ran to her side.  We were in the world’s largest grizzly protection area, and the cub was doubly secure by its mother’s side.  The cub found a piece of driftwood to play with, rolling on its back and trying to balance it on its four feet.  We named the cub Daisy after it sniffed an arctic daisy like some of us had done on the walk in.  The mother continued grazing, turning some of the nutrients into milk.  A half hour later, she lay on her back and the cub came trotting over to lie on her chest and take its share.

     Too soon, it was lunchtime for us, and we radioed the boat to send the skiff and take Bear watching in the Katmai us back to the boat.  After lunch, a couple people took naps and the rest of us talked about the morning.  We had learned a little more about the true nature of grizzly bears by watching scenes that go on today as they have since the glaciers melted from this wilderness over 10,000 years ago.  In mid-afternoon, we skiffed back to shore to explore another area and have another bear adventure in a new setting of Alaskan wildflowers and clear ponds that reflect the beauty of the background.  The tide was higher then, and we skiffed a half mile up the stream.  A lady remarked, “If people pay to see wild grizzlies without killing them, thousands of people can enjoy the same long-lived bears over the years, and the demand for this experience could lead to protection of additional areas.”

Values of Bear-Watching along the Katmai Coast ] Observing Grizzlies ] [ Bear Watching ] Living on the Boat ] Coming into Bear Country ]


Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
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Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
Homer, Alaska 99603
Phone 1-907-235-8337

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