Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bear Heaven (Alaska, USA)

Alaska is rich in national parks and reserves including several where visitors can view one of the greatest wildlife wonders on Earth – the bears feeding on the salmon run.

Around 50 kilometres south-east of the uninspiring Alaskan town of Wrangell is the travel wonder of Anan Creek, accessible only by boat or float-plane. The pink salmon (or humpie) make their bold run upstream against the surging waters of Anan Creek and the eager attention of predators, ready to spawn through July and August. It attracts a glittering array of Alaskan wildlife including black and brown bears, bald eagles, gulls and harbour seals. The black bears outnumber the browns and both have a healthy dislike for each other. Black bears are nervous of the more powerful brown bears and often move away or climb a neighbouring tree.

About a kilometre along a wooden boardwalk from the mouth of Anan Creek is a US Forestry Service shelter that provides both great viewing above a small falls and an excellent three-sided hide at the river level providing fantastic close-up viewing of the feeding frenzy. Almost certain to be misty or wet, the walk in and out is slightly unnerving as it is in open country with bears contentedly strolling along and across this same path. Food and drinks (except water) is absolutely forbidden for good safety reasons.

It is an extraordinary experience to watch bears dining on their favourite food only a metre or two away with eager-eyes eagles and gulls ready to seize any leftovers.

It is truly a travel wonder – wildlife at its finest.

More details on access and booking of Anan Creek Wildlife Observatory.


Heather Dugan ("Footsteps") said...

Terrific post, Mark. Your Alaska stories stir up a lot of great memories and make me want to go after some more! Anan Creek sounds like a perfect viewing spot.

Mark H said...

@heather: I hope you get to Anan Creek or one of the other great salmon feeding locales.

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