Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Living with bears in Kodiak

Most everyone has heard of the Kodiak Bear. It lives only in the Kodiak
Archipelago and is the largest of the brown bear.  They arrived originally
from Russia during the last ice age.  When the ice connecting us to the
mainland receded, the bears became stranded.  They have continued to
develop to the point they are considered a separate subspecies
from the grizzly bear.

These bears can weigh between 1500-2000 pounds as an adult male. A
bear that stands 5 feet tall when measured at shoulders can be 10-13 feet
tall on his hind legs.In fact,  8 of the 10 largest bears ever killed have
been in Kodiak.  Needless to say, these bears can be intimidating to mere
humans.  And as the natives, we tend to show respect towards them, if 
only to give him or her the right of way.

The island of Kodiak has around 3000 of these bears, most living in the 
uninhabited 97% of the island. They feast on salmon during the spawning
season and eat berries during the summer months. They are usually very
full and ready to hibernate as winter arrives.  Most people who live here
have stated they have never seen a bear up close.

Unfortunately for those bears that live in the woods around the town (yes,
we have city bear residents), they have a more difficult time building their
body fat. Berries are limited as we tend to enjoy them as jellies and
fishermen are frequently in their hunting grounds as well.  Carlos has
displayed a avid interest in the bears lately, or maybe they just keep
finding him.

After establishing residency of one year, Carlos was able to purchase his
fishing license. Of course he also needed a rod, reel, lures, knife, and 
waders. After the expenditure reach $300 he realized that the first fish
he caught would be very valuable. As of this date, the only fish we have
eaten was given to us.

His first expedition was with another doctor. When they arrived at the 
river and were ready to cast they noticed the bear behind nearby bushes. 
As they waited he wandered out into the river (where they had been 
fishing) and proceeded to catch his dinner.  Carlos and his friend left 
empty handed.

The next week Carlos had a couple of days off work and went to the 
river around 8 am.  He found a 400 pounder by the picnic table so left
for a while.  When he returned another fisherman reported that the bear
sat by the dumpster for a while but then left.  Feeling he would now be
uninterrupted, Carlos stepped out on the wooden deck.  There was a
terrible commotion underneath and out comes the bear.  He was less
than 10 feet away!  He looked straight at and then ran across the river
to the other side.  

Bear appearances, unfortunately, have not been limited this year to the 
rivers.  Just this past week one of the elementary schools had to cancel
outdoor recess due to roaming bear visitors. He also showed up in the
hospital parking lot twice in one day.
You can log on to our gallery of photos and see some of the pictures
we've managed to take.  One of them is of the bear that made Carlos
leave his fishing site.  Another is the sign posted in the school parking 
lot.  Some photos are of the black bears we observed on the mainland
during our summer vacation.  To view this site copy and paste: 

1 comment:

Yvonne Kizerian said...

You promised me when you moved up there that you wouldn't get eaten by a bear. You'd better keep your promise.