Black and Brown Bears Dont Mix
EXCEPT at Anan Creek, Wrangell, Alaska (inside passage, two ferry stops south of Juneau).
Brown bears, also know as Grizzly bears for those that live inland, are larger (220-1400 pounds), more aggressive, responsible for more human fatalities than black bears, and can stand on their hind legs. Black bears are smaller (150-400 pounds) come in a variety of colors including brown, cinnamon and pale yellow, will not kill you with one swat of the paw, do not stand on their hind legs, but do climb trees.
These two species of bears tend to inhabit different territories, avoid each other, and rarely are seen together. However, with abundant salmon (largest run of pink salmon in Southeastern Alaska) and easy fishing, both species converge at Anan Creek at the same time between July 15 to September 15. Anan Creek is one of the few places in the world where this occurs.
The Forest Service has built 2 platforms that overlook the creek and provide incredible viewing of this unusual event. One platform is a blind on the bank of the creek. From these platforms one can see both black bears and brown bears in the same viewing range.
The platforms are gated to keep the bears out and the observers in. However, the walkway/hiking trail to and from the boat dock is used by both people and bears. To use the outhouse, someone must be on the lookout for the bears.
I was fortunate to photograph both black bear cubs and brown bear cubs:
We were about to leave for the day when a black bear sow returned to the creek with her cubs. Two playful ones decided to scramble up a Sitka Spruce right in front of the platform. What a lucky moment, and my camera was even ready!
To get to Anan, one can hire a boat from Wrangell (about 1 hour ride on a jet boat).
We hired John Taylor of http://www.summitcharters.com as our guide and transportation to Anan, where we spent 8 hours photographing the bears. We labored under damp, cold, cloudy and drizzle conditions, but hardly noticed as we focused our cameras and attention on these magnificent creatures.
For details on our trip/adventure through Alaska see Beth Seeley’s blog: