I think they are the same ones we saw on the shoreline. Aside from a lone raven gliding overhead, its wing beats audible, the amphitheater was empty and quiet. When the female is ready to mate, she drives the cubs off, first to protect them from males, and second, because it’s time. Stan and Edna Price moved to Alaska in 1929. Cubs stay with their mothers until they are about three years old. There are only two ways to get to Pack Creek: by boat or by float plane. Kootznoowoo, The Fortress of Bears . Obviously good bear conflict prevention measures should be practiced. This seems like a confusing jumble of management, with a lot of layers. To inspire active participation in the world outside through award-winning coverage of the sports, people, places, adventure, discoveries, health and fitness, gear and apparel, trends and events that make up an active lifestyle. It was another bear taking advantage of the low tide, browsing through the daily buffet of clams. Get directions, maps, and traffic for Angoon, AK. The temperate rainforests of Admiralty Island's Kootznoowoo Wilderness are unique among the 5,700,000 acres of federally protected Wilderness in Southeast Alaska. Water vapor from my breath collected as I pressed my face closer to the window. Check out the clip, before reading on for the rest of your Fear Island advance preview. Just over the rise, about 200 yards from where we stood, grazed an awesome brown bear. The native Tlingit name for Admiralty Island is Kootznoowoo, Fortress of the Bear, leaving no doubt as to who was, and still is, the dominant species. Admiralty provides everything a bear requires to flourish: alpine denning sites, abundant water,  and lots to eat. (Photo: USFS). Word got around about the Prices’ unusual living situation and people flocked to Pack Creek to see for themselves. When the salmon, the bears' main food source, do not return for the first time one summer, the grizzlies must find something else to eat from grass to even Dungeness crabs. function() { I track the bears through my camera lens. President Theodore Roosevelt attempted to set aside Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands as a brown bear preserve. Today, it has the largest concentration of brown bears in the United States, with an estimated 1500-1600 bears. Even with hunting permitted on 95% of the island, their numbers hold steady. In 1929, a bear killed a young Forest Service employee, which further turned public sentiment against the bears. Your email address will not be published. An extremely soft and huggable giant teddy bear with a... $219.99 $169.99. Who needs waders? What is known is that the mitochondrial DNA from bears from Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof Islands is different from those of other grizzlies, with studies showing possible linkage to polar bears. Reaching the viewing platform, we reflected on the quiet beauty of this place. $39.99 $ 39. As we motor towards the island, we see a female bear with two cubs trailing behind. A prehistoric South American giant short-faced bear tipped the scales at up to 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms) and towered at least 11 feet (3.4 meters) standing up, according to … Stan loved all animals, allowing deer into his house to nap on the bed, and bears to nap in his wood shed. The state is responsible for its management. She looks underweight, her skin sagging a little, and her coat rough. Smiley takes a couple of steps towards them, and then seems to think better of it. He turned and flashed a brief smile. In the 1930’s bear viewing became a popular pastime for visitors from Juneau.  =  . These ancient forests are home to the highest concentrations of brown bears in the world, as well as thousands of bald eagles, Sitka Black-tailed Deer, boreal toads, and all five species of Alaskan salmon. Please reload CAPTCHA. Bears are descending from hibernation high on the mountainsides down to the beach and estuary to gorge on giant clams at low tide and to graze on nutritious grasses and sedges. Today, it has the largest concentration of brown bears in the United States, with an estimated 1500-1600 bears. In 1934, the National Forest Service and Alaska Game Commission created the Pack Creek Bear Preserve, and in 1935 the Civilian Conservation Corps built an observation tower upstream from the mud flats. It can be a good thing: Jane Goodall would never have made her groundbreaking observations of the chimps at Gombe if they hadn’t accepted her presence. ); 99 $49.99 $49.99. Farther out in the meadow another adult female grazes, likely the mother of the cubs. The bears follow the grasses, insects, berries, bulbs, roots, shellfish, and of course salmon, in an elegant dance with the seasons. As the female fills the frame, I’m surprised that I’m not scared. Meanwhile, another male materializes out from the woods, crosses the creek, and ambles towards the momma bear. She turns occasionally to chase them away, which our guide tells us is natural, but I can’t lie, it is unsettling to see. Stan enjoyed sharing his stories about living among the bears with countless visitors. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter declared Admiralty Island a National Monument using the Antiquities Act. All told there are more than 1,500 brown bears inhabiting this one island: that’s more than all the grizzlies in the lower 48 states combined. The trees felt like pillars of a Greek temple, as if they held the clouds aloft. So we decided to head back to the shore. National Monument designation didn’t change existing land uses, but did limit new activity. Alaska is home to some of the largest brown bears on the planet, and southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage includes several remote islands that have more giant bears per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Scientists frown upon attributing human feelings to other animals, but it’s hard not to see Smiley’s alder smackdown as frustration. Kootznoowoo Wilderness, located within the Admiralty Island National Monument in the Tongass National Forest, gets its name from the indigenous people of southeast Alaska, the Tlingit. The large hump between their shoulders leaves no doubt that these are grizzlies, or brown bears as they are known in this part of the world. They loved the bears, but were never complacent around them. One quick look at the passengers gave him his answer. Kayaking is hugely popular in the area, and there's great lakes and portage trails throughout. On all fours, it would have stood eye-to-eye with a grown man. display: none !important; The Kodiak bear ( Ursus arctos middendorffi) is found in the Kodiak Archipelago islands of southwestern Alaska. While some rangers thought that Price was too friendly with the wildlife, without him Pack Creek would not be what it is today. Here’s another surprising fact: there are so many of these brown beasts patrolling the shores of Admiralty that there are no black bears—another southeast Alaska icon—to be found. An 18-year-old man was killed by a grizzly bear while working at a silver mine in Alaska on Monday, state troopers said, marking the second fatal mauling in the largest U.S. state this year. The temperate rainforests of Admiralty Island's Kootznoowoo Wilderness are unique among the 5,700,000 acres (2,300,000 ha) of federally protected Wilderness in Southeast Alaska. While the other bears are doing their thing, he grabs an alder sapling and wrestles it to the ground, stomping and shaking it. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. A land of giants. They worked at numerous jobs, including mining, logging, and fish canning. She crosses the creek to get away from him, and then crosses again. Kootznoowoo means “Bear Fort” or “Fortress of the Bears,” and its forests contain the highest concentration of brown bears in the world. But it is impressive how all of these separate entities work together. From the corner of my eye I can see our guide and a ranger at the corners of the viewing area, which is little more than a square outlined with logs that are better seats than barriers. The corners of his mouth curve upward in a sort of permanent smile. Find more newsletters on our. He is an individual with a unique personality, and a memory loaded with years of experiences, feelings of happiness and sadness and pain. Pack Creek, near Juneau, is in the heart of Admiralty Island – also known as the Fortress of the Bears (Kootznoowoo in the local Tlingit language). var notice = document.getElementById("cptch_time_limit_notice_76"); if ( notice ) Fear Island wraps Animal … A large, lighter colored male follows her. Check flight prices and hotel availability for your visit. The sight was fairly predictable, yet absolutely surreal. We arrive by skiff. Please reload CAPTCHA. The plan failed, but others took up the cause, recasting brown bears as majestic, intelligent and resourceful creatures rather than ruthless killers. Being originally from South Africa myself, I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised. twelve Their rifles rest in the crooks of their arms, pointing slightly upwards. After the giant bear was killed, according to urban legend, three hikers were found inside the giant bear’s belly. It’s early June, and Sitka spruce and hemlock pop with bright green new growth. Together, we would explore the island. It is a fitting name because Kootznoowoo Wilderness, located in the heart of Admiralty Island off the Western coast of Alaska, is home to the highest concentration of brown bears in … I worry that we are going to witness a fight. The rich abundance of marine life, beautiful rugged mountains and one of the highest densities of Brown Bears in the world make it an exciting hunting location. . Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Granny casually skirts the action, munching sedges as she goes. They added outbuildings and gardens to create a self-sustaining homestead. In the early 1900’s, logging companies set their sights on Admiralty Island’s timber, which put them in direct conflict with brown bears. In both accounts, the bear weighed a monstrous 1,600 pounds. .hide-if-no-js { Smiley is doing all he can to get the attention of the dark female: He army crawls closer to her, rolls over on his back, sits on his haunches like a dog, always staring at her. Shannon Finch For reasons unknown, no black bears ever made it to the island. Even with hunting permitted on 95% of the island, their numbers hold steady. He retreats into an alder thicket. Sweeping canyons, soaring mountain peaks. I was trailing behind Dan when we reached the mouth of the creek. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google, Thanks for signing up! Subscribe to our What You Missed newsletter for the top headlines from the outdoor world, in your inbox six days a week. Muskeg and Forest, Kootznoowoo Wilderness, Tongass National Forest, Alaska, U.S.A. Old-Growth Forest, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington, U.S.A. Amy Gulick is a Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. He explored Admiralty Island, armed only with a stick, getting to know the island and his “neighbors.” Female bears especially became accustomed to him, and brought their cubs to the homestead as a way to avoid aggressive males. Looking for something else? You can't stay overnight in the sanctuary, but you can camp, permit free, on the island itself, and there's even a cabin you can rent. like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus, our entire suite of free newsletters here. Fortress of the Bears in Southeast Alaska harbors the largest concentration of Alaskan Brown bears on Earth. Sea and sky came together as we touched down on the water. Get it as soon as Tue, Jan 12. No human or bear has been injured at Pack Creek since it has been actively managed, and the agencies have a strict protocol to keep it that way. Within the wilderness area, black bears, elk, longhorn sheep and bobcats all thrive. I’ve been to a lot of places in the world that make a person feel small. Time limit is exhausted. Indian Heaven by Horseback: A Return to the Great Outdoors. Required fields are marked *, (function( timeout ) { Compare that to the total human population of about 650. Hunting closures for 20 square miles around Pack Creek further protected the bears. "Well, here we are," came the hissing welcome of our float plane pilot through the intercom system. The bears are now about 30 feet from us, but they ignore us as they lumber past the viewing area. The rangers quickly suggested we walk one of the nearby trails to another viewpoint further upstream. If wilderness, as its definition attests, is supposed to stand “in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape,” then the Kootznoowoo Wilderness of Admiralty Island is serving its purpose well. After Stan Price’s death in 1989, the state of Alaska created the Stan Price Wildlife Sanctuary, which protected the estuary. But habituation can be dangerous, especially when food is involved. We’re closer to seeing Bradley Trevor Greive head deep into the Kootznoowoo wilderness; into the Fortress of the Bears. Down below, a sea of undulating waves bordered rocky shores of pointed hemlock and spruce. Where brown bears originated—and when—is a mystery, though fossil evidence shows their presence on the island for thousands of years. This is still the Fortress of the Bear; humans are only transitory visitors. : * They call him Grandpa, he lives in angoon alaska on all fours top his shoulders to ground is 61/2 ft. which means when he stands up on top his head to ground is 13ft His dna tested out as hybrid a mix between Polar bear and Black bear they figure his weight to be atleast 2650 lbs – popular memes on the site ifunny.co We’re lucky, because often by now the bears have headed back into the forest or up into the mountains to wait for the salmon to come in early July. Pack Creek itself descends from an elevation of 4000 feet through grasslands, spruce and hemlock forest, and rich sedge meadows, until it reaches the tidal flats of Seymour Canal. The distant bear turned to look in our direction and raised itself onto its hind feet. In a two-hour “Monster Week” special, veteran wildlife conservationist Bradley Trevor Greive leads an elite team into uncharted Alaskan wilderness in search of Grandfather – a bear locals believe is the largest to ever roam the earth. I’m drawn to Granny, who is thought to be between 30 and 35 years old. He chose a life that was no doubt hard, but it was a life of meaning and connection with the natural world. Admiralty Island is one among the hundreds that make up the rain-soaked Alexander Archipelago in southeast Alaska. mesmerized. So, for this particular outing into the wilderness, I find it best to compartmentalize the moment when I was hastily slung like a sack of potatoes over another man's broad shoulders and carried briskly ashore. As outdoorsman Brendan Leonard wrote, “Bears don’t care about your problems.” They just go about their bear business as we saw today at Pack Creek. But the foam on “Smiley’s” lips and his clacking teeth make the situation less amusing. Kootznoowoo, Alaska is called that because of the literal translation “Fortress of the Bears” and that’s exactly what it is. It wasn’t always so. A frayed yellow cord tied to the wing flapped violently as we flew along through wind and rain. Its height and presence seemed to draw us closer. The island is home to the highest density of brown bears in North America and the highest density of bald eagles in the world. She alternately dozes and grazes, once in a while casually scratching with the immense claws on her hind foot. She disappears into the woods. Originally named 'Kootznoowoo' by the native Tinglit community, the name translates to Fortress of the Bears. Bears are descending from hibernation high on the mountainsides down to the beach and estuary to gorge on giant clams at low tide and to graze on nutritious grasses and sedges. Old-growth forests are often lauded for their serenity and solitude, but flying over the vast Tongass National Forest on a blustery day felt foreboding. They circle around the viewing area and end up in the meadow south of us, closer to the other bears. Called “Kootznoowoo” or “Fortress of the Bears” by the native Tlingit tribe, the island has one of the highest concentrations of Ursus arctos on the planet, fed and nurtured by the annual drumbeat of pacific salmon drawn to its shaded streams. This may account for the brown bear’s larger size compared to other grizzlies, though an ample food supply helps too. The last truly wild places now draw adventure seekers from around the world. If wilderness, as its definition attests, is supposed to stand “in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape,” then the Kootznoowoo Wilderness of Admiralty Island is serving its purpose well. The salmon need to fight up stream into the quiet rocky stream beds shaded by mature trees to spawn; the bears just need to be fed. It seems that I indeed captured her in her last summer. Coming to Alaska brings to mind images of rugged landscapes and self-reliant adventurers. We drew our coats closer against the cold wind. In 1952, after an unpleasant encounter with the IRS, the Prices towed their floating house, called a wannigan, to Pack Creek. There are four other bears in the meadow as well. The outgoing tide had removed a blanket of water and exposed a vast stretch of beach hundreds of yards wide. He follows. Once we were all safely on the wind-swept shore, we were greeted by two Forest Service rangers in faded-green rubber rain jackets. (Photo: USFS). As one side of the plane dipped down, we began to circle our landing spot. One of the things which I really enjoy about the spring hunts on Admiralty Island is the diversity of wildlife we see each day. A large brown bear emerges from Pack Creek. Approximately 1,600 brown bears live on the forested island, and visitors have been viewing bears at Pack Creek reliably since the 1930s. 1,423 Views. This gateway between temperate rainforest and the waters of the Inside Passage is a natural rendezvous point for bears and salmon. Twice rebuffed, he looks around, and sees Smiley and friend, making a beeline for them. If you happen to find yourself in Juneau, hop on a float plane (it's a 30-minute ride) and get out there with a good guide. But coming to a halt in front of a massive lump of partially digested sedge grass—the remnants of a passing bear—in the middle of a claustrophobic trail walled in by gigantic tree trunks, I was struck by just such a sensation. Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today. Didn't seem to bother him. Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung. During July and August, it's not uncommon to observe up to 25 bears visiting Pack Creek at a time. At 1600 square miles, Admiralty is the seventh largest island in the United States. In addition to brown bears, it is home to a large population of bald eagles, many other bird species, Sitka Black-tailed deer, marten, mink, otter, and all five species of Pacific salmon. For decades, tourists at Yellowstone National Park—and some staff who should have known better—used food to lure black bears in for photos. FREE shipping within the continental United States. The cubs stand up often on their hind legs, scanning. I feel sad for Granny, likely in her last summer, and think about all she has experienced in her life here. 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