Friday, August 2, 2013

Brown Bears at Pack Creek

There are no brown bears in Juneau, but just a few miles away on Admiralty Island, you will find one of the densest populations of brown bears (grizzlies) in the world! Most of Admiralty Island is federally-designated wilderness. It is named the Kootznoowoo Wilderness; Tlingit for "Fortress of the Bear". At one site, Pack Creek, the brown bears have a lush source of salmon beginning in mid-July. People have been safely viewing the bears at this site for over 80 years - the bears are rather accustomed to the human presence. With oversight of the Forest Service and Fish & Game, Pack Creek is a safe and healthy environment for the grizzlies and humans: bears to be bears and people to quietly view. 

We finished up a Wilderness Volunteers trip on a different part of Admiralty Island a couple of weeks ago, and we had not seen any grizzlies- although they were definitely around.  Most everyone was from down south, and they were rather disappointed that we hadn't seen any bears. Once we got back to Juneau, we looked into chartering a plane and getting Forest Service permits to go to Pack Creek (they only give out 24 per day and are usually sold out most days in the high season). We were in luck! 6 permits were available so 6 of us charted a floatplane with Ward Air and away we went! 

We had excellent weather for most of the day (until the torrential downpour at 5pm). We saw at least 11 different grizzlies. We watched them frolic and fish for salmon all day. What a treat. 

More info on Pack Creek can be found here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tongass/recarea/?recid=78650


Our ride to Pack Creek... a chartered float plane!
Looking north towards the Mendenhall Glacier





Fish & Game staff on the radio



on the trail to "the tower"

Immature bald eagle and a brown bear










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