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The grizzly bear that killed a lone backpacker Friday in Denali National Park appeared unaware a person was close for nearly the whole time the man was snapping pictures from maybe 40 yards away.
Richard White, a year-old from San Diego who relished hiking and camping alone in the wilderness, was attacked Friday afternoon next to the Toklat River, an area of prime bear habitat about three miles south of the park road. It was the first fatal bear mauling in Denali's recorded history, going back more than 90 years. Alaska Wildlife Troopers shot and killed the bear Saturday.
Park officials say they are sure it was the one responsible because White's clothing and other material linking it to him was found during an examination of its stomach contents. The backpacker's father, Byron White, told a San Diego newspaper that Richard traveled whenever he could take off from work and had been to Denali before.
He had worked as a pharmacology director for San Diego's Ferring Pharmaceuticals until last year and was in the process of switching to a new company, Byron White told the U-T San Diego newspaper. He enjoyed being out in the wilderness. White was married and had a young daughter, the newspaper said. He had been in the Denali National Park and Preserve backcountry for three nights and had two more to go on his backcountry permit, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said.
The Park Service wasn't immediately able to confirm that he had backpacked there before. Every year 1, to 1, backcountry permits are issued for Denali. On the permit, he indicated he had more than 30 years experience backpacking. He didn't carry bear spray or a gun but did circle that he had a whistle, Webster said.
Rangers recommend that backcountry hikers carry bear spray but it isn't required. On Friday afternoon, White was hiking to a new camping spot in the Denali backcountry. He started shooting photos of a big, male grizzly at Alaska time, Fister said. Rangers used satellite imagery to estimate that the bear was just over 40 yards away when White started taking pictures with his zoom lens. They haven't yet confirmed the distance with ground estimates or with tracks or other evidence from the scene.
White had taken mandatory "Bear Aware" training before getting his permit. Backcountry travelers are supposed to stay at least one-quarter mile from bears and to leave an area if they happen upon one. If the estimates are right, he was about ten times closer than he should have been. He took the first bear shots with a wide angle. Then he zoomed in. The last five or so pictures, taken in a span of 13 seconds, are a bit different. The bear lifts its head up, looking away from the camera.
Then the bear turns its attention to the photographer. It starts moving in White's direction. But the bear did appear agitated in the last couple of photographs, taken just after 1: It had "a definite, focused stare. Park officials are evaluating whether they can, and whether they should, release the photos to the public, Fister said.
Friday afternoon, three hikers on a day trip found White's backpack and evidence of a struggle, including blood and torn clothing. They returned to the Toklat River Rest Area and called park rangers about 5: Friday, a helicopter had deposited rangers next to a gravel bar near the braided river's edges. As the helicopter hovered, a bear ran into the brush.
Rangers spotted the body in a food cache site, where the bear had buried it, Fister said. The bear began circling around the rangers. They fired two rifle shots but missed. With darkness closing in, and the bear guarding its cache, the situation had become too dangerous, Fister said. The rangers were able to get back on the helicopter and leave for the night. They returned on Saturday afternoon with wildlife troopers, Fister said. A trooper shot and killed the bear from the helicopter, Webster said.
It's uncertain whether there was one bear or two in the vicinity on Friday evening, Webster. On Saturday, they saw a total of four bears in an area of several miles around the body.
But only one was sitting on its cache, the buried body. The bear had fed on the hiker, Fister said. The bear was estimated at pounds, big for Denali.
It was a mature boar, at least 5 years old. Rangers don't have any evidence that any other bears tried to feed on the hiker. The park service has a bear-human conflict management plan that calls for destroying bears in situations where they become a threat to people. Sometimes bear attacks can be explained as natural acts: A bear surprised in thick brush.
A sow defending her cubs. A bear guarding a dead moose calf cache. Often, a bear runs off after a mauling and there may be no reason to hunt it down or even a way to be sure the right one is found. As a precaution, rangers have closed about an area of about square miles around the kill site. They'll monitor the area for a couple of days to make sure no other bears appear to be unusually threatening.
Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer adn. Among her many assignments, she spent three years based in Bethel as the newspaper's western Alaska correspondent. She left the ADN in Alaska Life We Alaskans. Arts and Entertainment TV Listings. Special Sections Back to school. Events Best of Alaska. Denali Park hiker's camera offers clues to bear attack Author: Share on Google Plus. For unknown reasons, this bear turned predator, Webster said. Support independent, local journalism in Alaska./p>
Board the state ferry or private day excursion boats in any of these communities for up close and personal views of these magnificent rivers of ice. Driving in the Last Frontier is unlike driving anyplace else in the country. Spectacular views, majestic lakes and rivers, towering mountains, glaciers, wildflowers and wildlife are all an exciting part of the Alaska Driving experience.
Whether you drive your own vehicle or rent a car or RV, you'll have a truly unforgettable vacation. Enhance your Alaska vacation by exploring any of Alaska's scenic byways. Alaska also has two National Scenic Byways. National Scenic Byway — Seward Highway: Wye to Skilak Lake — Sterling Highway: For more information visit the Traveling Within Alaska section of this site, or the Department of Transportation's page on Alaska's Scenic Byways at www. Alaska is a wild land from our largest cities to our most remote islands.
For safety, take a companion, let someone know your plans, and be prepared for emergencies with spare clothes, plenty of food and water, and a means of communication.
Be alert along noisy streams, in thick brush, and when visibility is poor. Make noise sing, clap, talk when traveling. Always keep your belongings backpack, food, fish, etc.
If you see a bear, stay calm. If the bear does NOT notice you, quietly leave, keeping your eyes on the bear. If it DOES notice you, face the bear, wave your arms and talk to it calmly. If it approaches you, stand still.
If a bear is surprised at close distance, it may feel threatened and act defensively, especially if it has cubs or food.
If the bear strikes or bites you, lie on your front, protect your face and neck and remain still. In rare instances, bears may be predatory. Fight back if the attack is prolonged. Never approach, corner, or feed a moose. Moose, especially cows with calves, can be aggressive and need plenty of room. When in moose country, keep your dog in control. Pay attention to moose body language. Ears back, neck hair raised, and licking lips signal stress.
If a moose charges you, hide behind a tree or something solid or run if you have a head start. If you're knocked down, curl up, protect you head, and lie still until the moose retreats. Alaska offers unparalleled opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife. The variety and impressive numbers of mammals, birds and marine wildlife in Alaska draw visitors from all over the world. Keep a Low Profile Binoculars, a spotting scope, or camera with a telephoto lens allows you to see animals up close without disturbing their natural behaviors.
Polarized sunglasses cut the surface glare on water and make it easier to see fish and aquatic life. When hiking, scan for wildlife before stepping into the open of meadows, shorelines and riverbanks. When driving, use your car as a blind rather than jumping right out.
Move slowly and quietly. Leave pets at home. Small animals can become prey for eagles and large mammals. Dogs, even when leashed, resemble predators and may disturb wildlife. Enjoy watching animals' natural behaviors. Resist the temptation to attract their attention with sounds. If your presence is causing an animal to stop feeding or act restless, give it more space.
Be especially respectful of nesting and denning areas, rookeries and calving grounds, and critical feeding areas. Look for Clues Tracks, droppings, trails, and twigs provide clues about wildlife in the area - what they are eating, where they live and when they passed through.
Noticing and reading these clues adds richness to wildlife viewing. Time it Right Dawn and dusk are when many wildlife species are most active. Midday warmth energizes dragonflies and butterflies and creates thermals for eagles and hawks. Tides also influence coastal wildlife viewing opportunities. Many wildlife species move daily and seasonally in search of food. By learning about feeding habits, you'll have a better sense of where to look for which animals, and when.
Help Keep Wildlife Wild. Never feed wild animals. Doing so can cause them to associate people with food, which can get them in trouble in the future. Human food can also make them sick. Leave 'orphaned' or sick animals alone. Young animals that appear to be orphaned usually have parents nearby. If you're concerned, call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Be Considerate of Others People use and enjoy Alaska's wildlife in a variety of ways. Respect private property and give hunters, anglers, and others plenty of space.
For complete information on what, when and where to view wildlife visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website at www. Connect to the Wildlife Viewing section to find Alaska businesses. Alaska's shorelines are home to an abundance of marine life, including stellar sea lions, walrus, whales, seals and sea otters. The world's largest colony of seals, numbering over one million, breeds undisturbed on the Pribilof Islands.
Sixteen species of whales have been identified in Alaska's waters. Increasing numbers of visitors arrange whale-watching tours during migration in hopes of witnessing the massive mammal "breach" high above the water level. Sea otters are amusing creatures to watch. They are playful and are often seen carrying their young on their chest.
For more detailed information visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website at www. To connect with tour operators, see the Day Cruise section of this site.
Alaska's trail systems are full of many different kinds of berries. Winter is a time when Alaska sparkles and shines, when much of the land is covered by a blanket of soft snow - crystalline shapes glistening in the sun. Northern lights span the skies in the evening dazzling the eye and the snow invites the child in everyone to come out and play - you'll find plenty of friendly company to show you how and where to have the best winter fun.
For those looking for downhill skiing opportunities, Alyeska Ski Resort, located 40 miles south of Anchorage, offers three double chairs, two fixed quads, one high-speed detachable quad and a passenger tram to whisk you 2, vertical feet above scenic Turnagain Arm. Alaska has produced two winter Olympic Medalists, gold medal winner Tommy Moe and silver medal winner Hilary Lindh, both of whom grew up skiing on these exciting Alaskan slopes.
If cross-country skiing is what you're after, Alaska's many trails offer opportunities to trek through mountain valleys, ski beside the sea, or even take advantage of groomed and lighted trails. Cozy mountain lodges, throughout the Interior and Southcentral, are idyllic cross-country retreats - accessible by highway or by ski plane for more remote locations. Near Fairbanks, ski to a hot mineral bath at Chena Hot Springs. For skiers visiting the Inside Passage area, the Tongass National Forest provides terrain for all abilities and Eaglecrest Ski Area's trackset trails are great for limbering up.
Dog mushing is Alaska's official sport - annual sled dog races show off the extensive training the dogs and drivers endure to prepare themselves for the racing season. The Last Great Race on Earth grips the entire world for those nine days as racers vie for the championship title. Other incredible races include the Open North American Championship held in Fairbanks every March and the Yukon Quest International - considered by many to be the most difficult sled dog race - also held each year in Fairbanks.
Throughout the winter season, many communities host winter carnivals and festivals. Fur Rendzvous, also know as the "Mardi Gras of the North," is a day celebration in Anchorage that attracts thousands of celebrants to more than events that include snowshoe softball, a carnival with rides and the World Championship Sled Dog Races.
Fairbanks is home to the renowned World Ice Art Competition where stunning sculptures are carved from massive squares of ice. Wildlife viewing also offers an exciting dimension to winter, as many animals are easier to spot against a backdrop of white snow.
At the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, an estimated 3, bald eagles feed on salmon from late October through February - these eagles are easily seen from the highway. Arrange a photo safari with a wilderness guide, or look for caribou, moose and wolves while enjoying a flightseeing tour.
Other Possibilities — Cross country ski on either groomed trails or backcountry terrain. For more information on winter in Alaska, visit the Winter Activities section of the site. There are several ways to access one of the longest rivers in the North made famous by Robert Service.
Eagle is perched on the south bank of the Yukon River below Eagle Bluff. The area is quiet and remote and offers canoe and raft rentals for visitors. From Fairbanks, drive to Circle, Alaska. Today Circle is a small, picturesque town with lots of summertime activities.
Canoeists put in and take out on the Yukon, and visitors come and go on the Steese Highway. Beginning in Ketchikan and extending north throughout many of the Southeast Alaska Inside Passage communities, totemic art can be found in galleries and ancient totems tower among the trees and rest in museums. Sitka is home to Sitka National Historic Park, which boasts a collection of totems near the visitor center and along the walking trail. The pieces, primarily from Prince of Wales Island, were on display at the St.
The Center is a national landmark and is the largest such collection in the United States. To get to either of these destinations, drive north to Prince Rupert, British Columbia and catch the Alaska state ferry, take a cruise ship shore excursion or fly via scheduled jet service.
Visit the Inside Passage area of the site for more information and to connect with Alaska businesses. Alaska's largest towns and cities have major medical facilities, full banking services and other traveler conveniences. Alaska observes all major U. The western most Aleutian Islands and St. Lawrence Island are on Hawaiian-Aleutian Time. Astronauts say they can see it from space, but visitors to Alaska don't have to go that far to see one of engineering's modern marvels, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
The Dalton, which is known in Alaska at the North Slope Haul Road, is a mile road built during construction of the pipeline to provide access to remote construction camps. The highway begins at milepost Permits are no longer required to drive the gravel highway.
Services are very limited and are only available at milepost 56 and milepost at Coldfoot. Travelers should be prepared to drive slowly as the gravel road is very rough. There are four designated campgrounds along the Dalton Highway, and several informal campsites.
For complete temperature, climate and weather information for all regions of Alaska, visit the Climate section of the site. If you have a week you have enough time for a thrilling, memorable Alaskan vacation. Almost any itinerary see Sample Trips can be adapted to match the amount of time you have. And with a wide variety of activities and tours to choose from, planning your perfect itinerary is easy.
Here are some possible foundations for your travel plans. You'll get a change to meet friendly people, see wildlife, and view unforgettable scenery. Stop where you want, for as long as you want. Plan on one low-key day for every two days of intensive touring. It averages takeoffs and landings on a peak summer day. The Tongass in Southeast includes Lake Illiamna in Southwest Alaska is the second largest freshwater lake in the U.
Oil moves at a rate of 5. For resources and referrals, visit the State of Alaska Department of Administration website at doa. As part of the United States, American currency is the standard. Communities closer to the Canadian border will accept Canadian or American currency and some local banks will exchange currency. During the summer months, Alaska enjoys extended daylight hours throughout the state.
The further north you travel, the more pronounced the difference. In Anchorage, for example, the sun rises at 4: And in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska, the sun doesn't set for 84 days! This phenomenon is aptly called the "Midnight Sun. While it's true that in Barrow there is no daylight for 64 days, places like Anchorage, on the shortest day in December, have 6 hours of daylight. From there, daylight begins to increase up to 5 minutes a day until it reaches 19 hours on summer solstice.
Alaska and Canada will honor a valid driver's license from any state or country for 90 days after entry. Seat belts must be worn by all drivers and passengers while driving anywhere in Alaska. All children under the age of four, regardless of weight, must ride in a federally approved child safety seat while traveling in Alaska. Children between the ages of five to seven under 4'9" and less than 65 lbs must be secured in a federally approved child safety seat or booster seat.
Please note when driving Alaska's highways, Alaska State law requires drivers on a two lane roadway outside of an urban area to safely pull over when there are five or more vehicles immediately behind. You may carry firearms for protection or hunting in Alaska with proper permits.
Airline passengers must declare their firearms and check them as baggage. There are more restrictions on handguns than hunting rifles and shotguns. For more information, visit the Canadian Firearms Center website or contact them at Unloaded rifles may be mailed to Alaska - if sent to a federal firearms licensee be sure to check with the U.
Postal Service for shipping requirements. Mailing handguns or ammunition is prohibited. For further information, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms at or visit www. The following information is summarized from the bear viewing resources located on the Alaska Public Lands Information Center website at www.
Polar bears, found in the Arctic regions of Alaska, are the most dangerous. They fear nothing and anything that moves is a potential meal. There are approximately 4,, of these predators ranging the pack-ice and coasts of northern Alaska.
Brown bears are big and powerful predators, but unlike polar bears they do not indiscriminately hunt anything that moves and are as likely to be found eating berries and grass as ground squirrels or moose. There are approximately 35,, of these giants roaming throughout Alaska and they are the most sought after by bear viewers.
Black bears are the most numerous and the smallest of the bears and are found throughout Southeast, Southcentral and Interior Alaska. Numbering over 50,, they are the ones you most likely will see in an urban setting. Black bears have even been seen wandering downtown Anchorage in search of food. The point here is that you do not have to travel far to see bears in Alaska and as such, any outdoor activity needs to take bear safety into account.
This in mind, it should be noted that bear attacks are very rare in Alaska because most bears other than polar bears do not consider humans as food and try to avoid human contact. With proper bear safety precautions, your experience in the outdoors should be a safe and rewarding adventure. Bear Etiquette - Make your presence known; avoid surprises. Sing, talk, wear a bell. Watch and photograph from a safe distance. A bear will defend its food. Detour areas where you see or smell dead animals or fish.
Keep a clean camp. Store your food in airtight containers away from the tent site. The following areas are known for their concentrations of bears and quality of bear viewing. In addition, many flightseeing and fly-in fishing companies will take you to undeveloped, incidental bear viewing areas. To connect with more bear viewing resources and tours, visit Wildlife Viewing in Things to Do. Brown bears fishing for salmon and interacting with each other Best Viewing Times: By charter air service from Anchorage or Homer.
There is no road access. Primitive camping in designated camping area only. Bring your own tent, sleeping bag and pad, hip boots, cookstove and cooking gear, clothes and food.
Good physical condition is essential. Because of the hike and confinement to the viewing pad, traveling with children is not recommended.
Pets are not allowed. Permits are required and awarded by lottery drawing. Applications are available in January each year. Applications must be postmarked by March 1st and received in the Sanctuary office no later than March 15th and must include a nonrefundable fee.
Your name may only appear on one application. Applications must be mailed: Up to three persons may apply as a party. Winners of the lottery pay a user fee. Through the standard application, you can also apply for a standby permit, which allows access to the viewing pad if a regular permit holder decides to stay in camp, but access is not guaranteed.
Peaks in mid-July and again in September prepare for cool, wet weather Location: Alaska Peninsula, southwest of Anchorage Access: By commercial air service to King Salmon, then charter air service to Brooks Camp. National Park Service Facilities: All visitors to Brooks Camp, including lodge guests, day visitors and campers, must pay a user fee. The National Park campground is about one mile 1. Backcountry users are not charged a day use fee. Reservations for both camping and day use must be made prior to your visit through the National Parks Reservation Service.
Reservations are required for Brooks Lodge. For more information, contact Katmailand, Inc. July and August Location: By charter boat or floatplane from Juneau. A bear-viewing tower is accessible by trail one mile 1. This is a designated Wilderness Area.
No camping is allowed in the viewing area. There are no overnight accommodations, developed campsites, outhouses, picnic tables or other facilities. You must have your own boat to camp on these islands. Advance reservations for permits are required between July 5 and August 25 when the number of persons allowed each day is limited. Half-price discounts are available for seniors and juniors. Applications, with attached check or money order, may be postmarked no sooner than February 20 Feb.
Permits are awarded on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis after March 1 and are for a 3-day maximum stay. From June 1-July 4 and August September 10, permits are still required but do not require advance reservation. Pack Creek permits are available online through www. Access permits must be obtained through this service provider or through one of the approved guiding companies.
Bear Etiquette — Make your presence known; avoid surprises. Bear Behavior — A bear standing on its hind legs usually only wants a better view and more information. Close Encounters — If you do encounter a bear at close distance, remain calm. Remember, bear attacks are rare. Talk to the bear in a normal voice. You cannot outrun a bear. Like dogs, a bear will instinctively chase a fleeing animal. Nearly species of birds can be found in Alaska, including ducks, geese, swans and the millions of seabirds that nest in colonies along Alaska's coastlines.
Some migratory birds travel up to 20, miles on their round-trip journeys to Alaska. The spring concentration of shorebirds is one of the most impressive wildlife sights in the world. Alaska truly is a birder's heaven. Alaska is also the best place in the United States to see our national symbol, the American Bald Eagle. The Chilkat River near Haines is home to over 3, bald eagles each fall when they arrive to feed on the late run of salmon.
For more information on bird viewing in Alaska, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website at www. Size Alaska's , square miles is one-fifth the size of the continental U.
Mountains Of the nation's 20 highest peaks, 17 are in Alaska. That includes the legendary Denali, the tallest mountain in North America at 20, feet. Glaciers Alaska has an estimated , glaciers, which cover almost five percent of the state.
There are more active glaciers in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world. Pipeline The Trans-Alaska Pipeline transports approximately. Oil moves at a rate of five to seven miles per hour and takes under six days to travel the miles from Prudhoe Bay to tankers in the port of Valdez. Time Zones Alaska has its own time zone, which is one hour earlier than Pacific Time. Alaska Marine Highway System Alaskan ferries travel a route covering 3, miles and serving 30 Alaskan ports.
Bald Eagles The largest known concentration of bald eagles, over 3,, converges near Haines from October through January to feed on late run salmon in the Chilkat River. Water Alaska has 3 million lakes, over 3, rivers and more coastline 47, miles than the entire contiguous United States. A common misconception is that a trip to Alaska is expensive. This idea is likely a holdover from the boom-days when the trans-Alaska pipeline was under construction. Back then everything was in short supply - from housing to coffee - so naturally costs ran high.
But today, Alaska has lower prices than many other places in the U. According to an annual AAA survey of vacation costs, Alaska is a less expensive destination than about one-fifth of the American states - an average of 22 percent less. In other words, Alaska is priced fairly near the middle. Restaurants in Alaska charge similar prices as found in most major U. Those numbers offer a good starting point for your budget planning.
But you also need to consider your individual circumstances and whether meals are included as part of a tour package. However, with a wide range of travel options, from luxury lodges to charming inns, from rustic cabins to backpacking, the cost of an Alaskan vacation can vary. Ultimately, the cost of your trip will be determined by your personal travel style and preferences. Transportation Costs Getting to-and-from your destination is often a large part of a vacation budget.
The cost of getting to Alaska can vary widely, depending on your means of transportation. For example, transportation costs can be low, if you find a bargain airfare on the Internet.
On the other hand, the cost of a package tour or cruise would include transportation - as well as lodging and meals, and might save money in the long run. The Bottom Line Research shows that you'll probably spend about the same as you've spent on past vacations that take you beyond your state borders. So whatever your budget, an unforgettable Alaskan experience really is within your reach!
Ways To Save 1. Search online for "Internet-only" specials 3. Consider traveling in the "shoulder seasons" of May and September 4.
Take advantage of early booking discounts usually in January and February 5. Save on transportation costs by focusing your trip on one region 6.
Ask about discounts for seniors and children. Federal and State campgrounds are available throughout Alaska. A few even have electrical hookups and dumping stations. Private campgrounds are also available throughout the state. Visit Places to Stay for more information private campgrounds.
The days are longest, and the temperatures are the warmest. Some activities or accommodations may only be available during this season. This is when you're likely to find discounts on travel and activities. The weather in the shoulder season is often very mild. November to April If you want to see the Northern Lights, go skiing or snowshoeing, attend Fur Rendezvous, watch ice carving competitions, or share the excitement of championship sled dog races A Southeast Alaska Inside Passage vacation would not be complete without learning about its fascinating Gold Rush history.
While hiking either all or part of the Chilkoot Trail just outside of Skagway, visitors will literally find history at their feet. Hundreds of discouraged gold miners ditched their supplies as they gave up their dreams of Klondike gold and headed home.
Old pick axes, wagon wheels, shovels and countless other items are found along the 33 mile trail. Less adventurous travelers can walk just part of the trail, while hardcore hikers will want to take on the once-in-a-lifetime trek. You can get to Skagway by driving Highway 2 from Whitehorse in Canada or by taking a ferry or cruise into the town's port. The Chilkoot Trail is administered by the U. A permit is required to hike both the U. The Park Service cautions that hikers must be properly equipped and prepared to be self-sufficient on this trail.
Information on permits and fees, customs requirements, regulations, camping, weather, equipment and trail conditions are available from the Chilkoot Trail Center in Skagway at or visit the National Park Service's Chilkoot Trail website at www.
Visit Communities-Skagway to find more information and links to Skagway businesses. As of January , all persons traveling between the United States and Canada via air must have a valid passport. The Department of Homeland Security may also require passports for other modes of travel, including those traveling by land or sea. You can take your dog or cat through Canada with proof of a current rabies vaccination.
Inquire ahead of your trip regarding permits for other animals or birds. You cannot enter Canada if you have a criminal record this includes DUIs. Anchorage is the largest city in terms of population, with more than , residents.
Fairbanks is the second largest with roughly 32, residents. In terms of total area, Sitka is the largest with 4, square miles, with Juneau being second largest with 3, square miles. To connect with Alaska communities, visit the Communities section of the site. Kodiak Island is home to world-famous brown bears. Known for their huge size and large numbers, sighting a Kodiak brownie is the highlight of more than one traveler's trip to Alaska.
Visitors craving views of the big beasts can take the state ferry to Kodiak, catch a scheduled jet or hop on one of many privately operated bear-viewing tours. There are about 3, Kodiak bears; a density of about 0. They enjoy relatively pristine habitat and well managed fish populations.
In most areas the number of bears is stable, but there are some places where bear density is increasing. A large male can stand over 10' tall when on his hind legs, and 5' when on all four legs. They weigh up to 1, pounds. The oldest boar was Weighing less than a pound at birth with little hair and closed eyes, they suckle for several months, emerging from the den in May or June, weighing pounds.
Typical litter sizes are cubs. Sows are sometimes seen with 5 or 6 cubs in tow, probably due to adopting cubs from other litters. Most cubs stay with their mothers for 3 years. Some of these subadults are the "juvenile delinquents" of bear society and are also the ones most likely to cause problems with people. The average interval between litters is about 4 years.
Kodiak bears begin entering their dens in late October. Pregnant sows are the first to go to dens, males are the last. Males begin emerging from their dens in early April, while sows with new cubs may stay in dens until late June.
Some males may forego denning, staying awake all winter. They are trying to figure out how bears can sleep for up to 8 months without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating, yet when they awaken they have lost little bone mass or muscle tone and have no signs of uremia.
Understanding this could help astronauts during extended space flights or patients who are bedridden. They actually spend more time eating grass, plants and berries than meat. Fish are an important part of their diets, but few Kodiak bears expend the time or effort necessary to chase and kill mammals.
Bears use the most nutritious parts of their food to maximize their weight gain. Grass and folage are only eaten while they are rapidly growing in the spring and early summer.
Brains, flesh and eggs are preferred parts of the salmon. Internal organs of deer, elk and cattle are eaten first when one is killed or scavenged. Berries are used most often when they are ripe and sugars are at their highest level.
Because of the rich variety of foods available on Kodiak, bears here have some of the smallest home ranges of any brown bear population. They are serially monogamous having one partner at a time , staying together for a couple days or a couple weeks.
As soon as the egg is fertilized and divides a few times, it enters a state of suspended animation until autumn when it finally implants on the uterine wall and begins to grow again. Because of this, they have developed a complex language and social structure to express their feelings and avoid fights. Arrows, spears and a great deal of courage were required hunting equipment. Bear heads were usually left in the field as a sign of respect to the spirit of the bears.
Original Russian settlers were encouraged to bring large aggressive dogs to protect cattle from bears. As early as the s, biologists and ranchers were exploring ways to reduce the number of cattle killed by bears.
At one point bears where shot from airplanes, and a 9-foot high bear fence was proposed to bisect Kodiak Island and create a "bear-free-zone. Concern over reduced bear populations prompted sportsmen to petition the Federal government to protect bears and their habitat on Kodiak. The results of their efforts were stricter regulations and creation of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in About 5, resident bear hunters apply each year for a chance at the bear permits that are available for them.
Only one person has been killed by a bear on Kodiak in the past 75 years. About once every other year a bear injures a person. For the history buff, Kennecott Mine is a must. An early-day misspelling made the mining company Kennecott, while the region, river and settlement are Kennicott.
When the copper market died down in , the company essentially abandoned the site, leaving it as a virtual ghost town. Tours into some of the historic red buildings are available through private operators. What Kodiak is to bears, the Kenai River is to salmon In fact, the Kenai offers anglers all five species of salmon, and anyone can access it by making sure to buy a fishing license, driving to the Kenai Peninsula and casting a line into its distinctive green-blue waters.
Guided charters are also available along the length of the river. Flying to Alaska is as easy and affordable as flying to many familiar vacation spots. More than a dozen airlines have service to Alaska. Direct flights are available from a number of major cities. Visitors can fly in and out of Fairbanks International Airport to destinations worldwide. Jet service is also available from Seattle to the Inside Passage community of Ketchikan. Jet flights from Seattle, Washington, take about two-and-a-half hours to reach Juneau, and three-and-a-half to four hours to Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Alaska Airlines typically offers the most availability for travel to and within Alaska, and has partnerships with several smaller carriers for service between more rural communities in the state.
The Alaska Railroad gracefully winds through indescribably beautiful landscapes - and since you're not driving, you can really enjoy the views. The rail corridor runs from Seward to Fairbanks, a distance of miles. The train runs all year long, with seasonally adjusted schedules and routes. Railroad conductors and guides point out the highlights, offering commentary about scenery and wildlife along the way.
The route between Fairbanks and Anchorage includes a pass along the eastern flank of Denali National Park. To the south of Anchorage, at Whittier, you can connect with the State ferry system. Alaska's Railroad offers unique, double-decker glass-domed cars that let you take full advantage of the scenery. Built in , at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, this mile private railway linked the port of Skagway to Whitehorse in the Yukon, giving prospectors access to the gold fields beyond.
Today, the White Pass offers narrated excursions in traditional parlor cars, traveling the "Scenic Railway of the World.
The state-owned ferry system is called a "Marine Highway" because it provides vital year-round transportation service for many Alaskan communities, and it sails through some truly breathtaking scenery. Ferry trips can be round-trip or one-way, and travelers can board with or without a vehicle.
Tickets are affordable and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Reservations can be made online at www. Make reservations early, especially for cabins. Schedule extra days to take advantage of stopover privileges. Sail the world-famous Inside Passage aboard a ship that meets your personal needs, interests and budget.
An Alaskan cruise is a convenient way to experience the best of Alaska; unpack just once and enjoy all-inclusive pricing on meals. The cruise line handles the logistics and details of travel, and partners with tour operators to offer add-on excursions and day tours usually for an additional fee.
These are not "typical" cruises designed around shuffleboard and swimming pools. On an Alaskan cruise, the focus is on whales, bald eagles, Russian legacy, Gold Rush history, Native cultures and spectacular coastal scenery.
Large cruise lines and small specialty ship companies offer round-trip or one-way cruises to the Inside Passage and Gulf of Alaska. Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia are the major departure ports to cruise northbound. The peak season for cruising to Alaska is May through September. Cruise packages can be purchased online, with a travel agent or directly with the cruise line. For cruiselines and agencies that book cruises, visit the Travel to Alaska By Sea section of this site.
For you, this designation means exceptionally spectacular scenery along all the routes, and rich cultural history in the port communities. Designed for Alaska residents and with access to dozens of Alaskan communities, the ferry system is also a good choice for independent travelers. Bring your vehicle or bicycles, and when you arrive at a port, you're ready to go.
You can also change your itinerary on the fly, adding stopovers at no extra charge. Seniors can save up to half off regular fares, depending on the season and route. Walk-on space is usually available - but vehicle spaces on most popular routes sell out in advance. As an option, consider renting cars at port destinations. There are also new, high-speed ferries available. If you have a short time to spend in Alaska, fly between cities or take a pre-packaged tour.
Most towns in Alaska have regularly scheduled air service, with connections from airlines based in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Alaska's airports follow the same security measures used at other U. Air Taxis and Charters There are many good reasons to travel by small plane: Helicopters are also widely used for flightseeing.
These small air carriers serve thousands of Alaskans and visitors every year. They know what trips to recommend and how to provide an unforgettable experience within your budget. There are 9, miles of state and national highways in Alaska - and 1, miles that have earned the designation of "scenic byway.
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