• Large male brown bear at Brooks Falls

    Katmai

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Katmai Terrane

Bear resting near the Brooks Camp Campground
NPS/C. Billock
 

About This Blog

Bears. Salmon. Volcanoes. Wilderness. Culture. These are the terranes of Katmai. Each is distinct, but in combination these features create a place like no other. Read about the uniqueness of Katmai in this blog.

August at Brooks Camp

August 13, 2014 Posted by: Sean Meleen

The Brooks River is well known for its bear viewing opportunities. Each summer, people come from all over the world to view brown bears in a pristine environment. Those who visit the Brooks River in August, however, may not see many or any bears. Why?

 

Removing a Wire Snare from 854 Divot

August 04, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Pop! When I saw the tranquilizing dart strike 854 Divot, I knew that there was much work to do and we needed to be quick about it, but I couldn’t help but feel a sigh of relief. “This might just work,” I thought, “We’ll be able to remove the snare.” Frankly, I never thought we’d get the opportunity.

 

Being Dominant

July 15, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Dominant male bears along the Brooks River gain many advantages over other bears. They can access the most preferred fishing spots when they choose, easily appropriate food from other bears, and have a higher likelihood of courting female bears and siring offspring. Gaining access to food allows bears to grow larger. Growing larger gives bears a greater chance to become reproductively successful.

 

Surprises of the Bear World

July 11, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Katmai’s female bears go through a somewhat predictable cycle. They nurse their offspring while caring for them and don’t go into estrus while nursing. These behaviors happen with regularity and are the “norm.” However, bear behavior is full of surprises.

 

Death of Bear 130

July 08, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

July 1 was a busy day at Brooks Camp. Late in the evening, while many rangers were still dealing with 402’s yearling cub in a tree at Brooks Lodge, another ranger discovered a dead bear near the cut bank on the Brooks River.

 

Thoughts on Hallo Bay

June 27, 2014 Posted by: Landis Ehler

If and when the public think of Katmai National Park and Preserve, they are increasingly thinking of bears, particularly wild brown bears in relatively large concentrations. From the popular Alaska attractions of Homer and Kodiak many wildlife tours visit a place called Hallo Bay.

 

Fure's Alarm Clock

June 11, 2014 Posted by: Kathryn Myers

Why is a rusty clock important to Katmai? Because it belonged to Roy Fure, one of the park’s former residents. Fure and his family used this alarm clock while living at his cabin in the Bay of Islands. This cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Starvation Time

April 25, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Spring is a season often associated with increasing abundance. However, if your name is Ursus arctos, the brown bear, then springtime may be the hardest season to survive.

 

Little Monsters?

April 07, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Prior to 2006, Katmai’s spruce forests appeared healthy. Under the dense canopy of needles, little light filtered through to the forest floor where mosses and shade tolerant shrubs held a dominant foothold. Reaching toward the sky were many spires of green-needled spruces that intercepted much of the incoming light. Today, however, even the casual observer walking through those same forests will find something amiss.

 

Have Spear, Will Travel

March 10, 2014 Posted by: Kathryn Myers

In 1964, George Gryc, then chief of the Alaska Geology Branch of the USGS, visited the geological survey party that was mapping the Iliamna quadrangle, which was then just north of Katmai National Monument. During his visit, the geologists landed on Grosvenor Lake to do some mapping. During their lunch break, Gryc began investigating a sandstone bluff near the edge of the lake, looking for fossils. According to a 1972 letter to the superintendent from Gryc: “I noticed, rather incidentally, a stick that seemed unusually weathered lying on a ledge. I picked it up and noticed that it was worked. I looked around and after some searching noticed a couple of more similar pieces (shafts) sticking out of a crevice..."

 

What Does a Bone Needle Say?

February 04, 2014 Posted by: Kathryn Myers

A simple bone needle, broken into four pieces, is perhaps not as exciting to look at as a spear point, an oil lamp, or an incised pebble, but it can tell us as much or more about the lives of the people who used it as any finely worked point or intricately carved pebble can.

 

The Last Bear Killed at Brooks Camp

January 29, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

In the Brooks Camp Visitor Center, a bear pelt hangs in the rafters. This pelt belonged to a young female bear nicknamed Sister. After obtaining food and equipment from people, Sister became the last bear destroyed at Brooks Camp. This is a story of mistakes and loss. It teaches a lesson that we should never learn the hard way again.

 

Baking in Alaska

January 27, 2014 Posted by: Chuck Lindsay

While much of the Lower 48 and Canada have experienced a bitter cold January, Alaskans are experiencing unusually warm temperatures. These warmer-than-average January temperatures are not in themselves unusual, what’s really odd is how long they’ve stuck around.

 

Birth of a Brown Bear

January 22, 2014 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Brown bear cubs are from 1/3 to 1/10 of that predicted for female mammals of comparable size. Why would brown bears give birth to such small and vulnerable offspring? Like many natural phenomenon, no one knows for sure but biologists have some ideas.

 

An Underwater Winter

January 14, 2014 Posted by: Masaki Mizushima

As Lake Brooks and Naknek Lake freeze over during the Alaska’s long, cold winter the Brooks River continues to flow. Its currents carrying wind-swept white spruce trees and icy sludge downriver. However, beneath the truculent waters, Brooks River is alive with life.

 

Incised Pebbles from the Brooks River Area

January 09, 2014 Posted by: Kathryn Myers

To many, the Brooks River is the heart of Katmai National Park & Preserve. It is also a National Historic Landmark and an Archeological District consisting of 20 different prehistoric sites. From 2002-2003, working with the Council of Katmai Descendants, NPS archaeologists partially excavated one of these 20 sites in an attempt to answer research questions and learn about the site before sections were lost to erosion. Some of the artifacts found during this excavation were delicately designed incised pebbles.

 

2013 Bearcam Year in Review

December 31, 2013 Posted by: Michael Fitz

It was a great year on the bearcam with many memorable moments. Who can forget bear 469’s attempt to persevere through injury, the playfulness of young and well fed bears, or the care mothers took to protect their cubs? The insight gained into the lives of bears and the intimate moments we were able to observe dominate this bearcam year in review.

 

Deciphering the Novarupta-Katmai Eruption

November 26, 2013 Posted by: Michael Fitz

In the early 20th century geologists had a limited understanding of volcanoes. Plate tectonic theory was still half a century away. Radio communications in remote, volcanically active areas were unreliable or non-existent. Eyewitness accounts of volcanic eruptions were difficult to gather. Seismographs, an essential tool for contemporary volcanologists, were almost unheard of in Alaska. For many years, little was known or understood about what happened in early June 1912 on the northern Alaska Peninsula.

 

Bear Hibernation

November 21, 2013 Posted by: Michael Fitz

One adaptation that has evolved in some mammals is hibernation. Hibernation is a state of dormancy that allows animals to avoid periods of famine. It takes many forms in mammals, but is particularly remarkable in bears.

 

Giving Bears Space

September 04, 2013 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Every once and a while, you may see people on the floating bridge while a bear is nearby. The people in the photo above were not behaving appropriately for the unique bear viewing opportunities at Brooks Camp. The wildness of the bears and the wonderful experiences for people at Brooks Camp is dependent on everyone giving bears space.

 

Dynamics of the Brooks River Sockeye

July 27, 2013 Posted by: Michael Fitz

In winter, ice and snow cover much of Katmai’s landscape. Salmon fry bide their time waiting to become smolt and run to sea. Later in the year and soon after the smolt depart, much larger salmon are returning from the ocean. In late June, schools of silvery and energetic fish begin to pulse through the river. During August and September, the Brooks River is dotted with ruby-colored jewels digging nests and fighting for territory. Soon after, the waters of Katmai begin to quiet again. The salmon have spawned and most are dead. Eggs are quietly incubating. These are extreme contrasts, but the Brooks River is a dynamic place. Maybe nothing else better illustrates this than the annual sockeye salmon run--a powerful example of change, adaptation, and instinct.

 

The Resilient Bear

July 14, 2013 Posted by: Michael Fitz

Watching the bearcams on explore.org gives anyone with internet access an opportunity to experience the dynamics of a bear’s world. We get to observe the playfulness of cubs, the intimacy of mating, and the satiation of hunger when a bear eats a salmon. However, when we watch the cams, we will also see some unpleasant aspects of the bears’ world.

 

Did You Know?

Bear at Brooks Falls

The bear that you see in the park may be older than you think. Brown bears can live up to 30 years, although 20 years or less is more common.