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Posts Tagged ‘WIldlife’

Bears and Us

Football season is upon us so why not talk about da Bears?
Of course, the kind I’m talking about are grizzlies. One of the first questions I’m usually asked by people who are considering coming to Alaska is “what about the bears” meaning of course what kind of danger will I be exposed to if I travel there?
My normal response is that the bears live here and as long as we all respect that and understand that we are visitors in their habitat there is really very little danger.

Whenever there is an incident where someone is injured or killed by a bear it is almost always the result of someone doing something they shouldn’t do or being someplace they shouldn’t be. There are attacks that seem to be unprovoked but they are fairly rare.

I’m certainly not as expert as some, but I’ve been coming to Alaska many years and have read many books on the subject, listened to others with a lot of experience and had my own encounters.

This year I’ve been given a number of opportunities to observe both grizzly and black bears in their environment. Most of these had one or two cubs and the mama grizzly I wrote about in a recent blog from last year had four yearlings.

They love to come down to the streams and waterfalls around Valdez to feed on the salmon that come here to spawn each year. I have been paying closer attention to their behavior this year as the moms protect and nurture the young ones during their feeding.

The mom’s main mission is food for herself but also she is teaching the cubs how to fish and it’s an incredible sight to see how they coax, lead and sometimes, as one did the other night, simply push the cubs into the water to find the fish.

I think the most important things for me or any visitor to the wilderness to remember is that wild animals in many ways are just like us. By that I mean they instinctively want to feel and be safe, they want to be able to feed and live in their environment without being harassed and they want to protect and raise their young. Sound familiar?? Pretty simple.

I’ve decided in the future that when asked the question “ what about the bears”? I will clearly let them know we won’t be watching television. Seriously, I think I will be sure to add that I hope they will get to observe these magnificent animals in their natural habitat when they visit. To experience first hand bears, moose, sea lions, seals, whales and birds is a joy and a privilege that not everyone gets to experience.

These encounters will create a lifetime of memories and hopefully give thrill seekers a new perspective and appreciation of wild animals…..as we like to say “only in Alaska

Mama grizzly teaching cub to catch salmon

Mama grizzly teaching cub to catch salmon

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The Natural Order

Mama grizzly

Mama Grizzly

Life in the Wild

I was sitting in Graham’s 318, one of my favorite coffee shops last week and noticed a robin’s nest in a fir tree outside the window. A female robin was very busy flying back and forth feeding four hungry babies. It was a joy to watch her and her young ones but I couldn’t help but notice that with 4 chicks, that was a very crowded nest.

A few days later I returned and asked Esther, one of the barista’s, how the young ones were doing. She said that one of them had fallen or been pushed out of the nest. When I asked her if she tried to get it back into the nest she replied that she believed in not interfering with nature. I was impressed that she made the right decision even though the young bird would perish.

For most of us, the inclination is to rescue wildlife that is injured or abandoned and get it back to its mama or take it where humans can care for it. In many instances I agree with that as I, like most of us, don’t want to see animals hurt or in trouble.

As a traveler and tour guide in Alaska however I get to witness animals of all species in their wild habitat. In the wilderness, as in populated areas nature is always ready to follow it’s normal path. The difference of course is in the wild, life and death so often go unnoticed that we tend to forget that it follows it’s own rules.

Last year there was a female grizzly bear near the town of Valdez where I base my trips. This beautiful lady had 4 cubs…. a very rare occurrence. While they all appeared healthy and active we noticed that one was much smaller than the others…the runt of the litter.

Given the harsh winters and other factors, there’s a good chance that this little guy did not survive and may not be around when I get back there in a few weeks. No one suggested that the cub be trapped so it could be safely raised in its first year and guaranteed its survival. It will survive or not as nature provides.

On another occasion we were kayaking and camping at Shoup Glacier. There was a large sea lion that had beached itself and was in the process of dying. It made loud bellowing noises on and off all through the night and we could here it all from our cabin.

At one point we thought that it might be being under the attack of Wolverines and we were tempted to check and help if necessary but we knew it was not what we needed to do. The next morning we saw the animal still alive, but in the water around her were 20 or so other sea lions that had come to keep a vigil in her time of need, an amazing example of the community that wild animals develop.

As humans interacting with nature we can never be quite sure if what we’re doing is helping or harming. We can feel good about what we’re doing in rescuing and protecting but that’s our stuff and not natures.

Among the many things I’ve learned is that in nature there are absolutely no mistakes. Everything that takes place in the natural habitat is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

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Hi All,

It’s been so long since I posted and I’m glad to be back. I will be posting on a regular basis and hope you’ll follow along. Since starting the Alaska Adventures segment of More to Your Life it had been my desire to immerse myself more deeply into the Alaskan culture hence my decision beginning in 2012 to spend the summer months up north. I moved out of my apartment, put most of my belongings in storage, loaded the rest of my gear, kayak and bicycle in my Subaru and headed out on May 13th.

It was quite an advneture driving the 3400 miles, seeing the vast changes in landscape, weather, traffice and the personalities of the people in the various areas in which I traveled. The large cities and countryside in the lower 48 and into and thru Canada were very similar in traffic, agriculture, industry and  the energy of the people. It was fascinating to watch and feel the changes as I moved north and west into British Columbia and the Yukon territories.The landscape went from flat and agricultural to moutainous, rugged, absolutley breathtaking beautiful terrain. The population lessend, traffic got thinner and less frantic and the people more grounded and peacful, that slower movement that makes the wilderness and semi wilderness so remakably special.

I got to see the beautiful Canadian Rockies, a wide range of wildlife including black bears, Bison and extremly large species of moose, especailly in the Yukon Territitories. It was a special treat to hike trails along the famous Yukon River just outside of Whitehorse and get a small taste of the historical develpoment of that area following the dicovery of gold back in the late 1800’s.

The trip took me about 12 days with some stops along the way. I stayed in some very unique places such as the Toad River Inn and met some fantasticly interesting people. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter the geograhical separation of folks how simlilar we all are at our cores. While we are driven by different needs and desires , living our lives at differnt levles we all are connected thru  Spirit and Universal Energy.

For those that live in the cities with the concrete and steel, the nonstop lifestyle, stresses of the workplace it is so important to get into nature and experience that connection, that oneness with Spirit. It so puts everything in perspective when we’re able to see and feel the significence of our being so insignificent. It is wonderful to see and feel that which we can’t connect with  in the cities and suburbs; the world in perfect balance.

I’m looking forward to continuing my summer adventure in the coming weeks and to your comments. We are already booking our Alaska Adventure trips for 2013 and will be posting itineraries soon. New activities for 2013 include whitewate raft trip thru Keystone Canyoi and hiking on the Worthington Glacier. Our standard offerings of kayaking, camping and fishing will all be availble as well. I’ll let you know when the new picutures from 2102 have been posted.

Until next time,

Namaste

JIM

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