Saturday, October 29, 2011

2011 Season of Grizzly Bear Viewing

The 2011 season was one of our busiest with lots of bears, a decent salmon run and lots of great guests. As always there are some we never want to see leave because we do have a lot in common and need more time to get to know each other. I always watch the guests as they climb out of the plane and wonder who they are, what are they like, why are they here, what is their story and most of all who are we not going to want to see leave? Some of the most difficult looking first impressions often turn out to be favorite guests as they become more comfortable with us. I always have to remind myself that our common bond to begin with is wilderness and wildlife, especially grizzly bears. From there we can begin. I am not long on words so tend to let the wilderness explain itself, with some explanations from my perspective. I do introduce our new guests to the cove and inlet with some history and background of the logging, cannery and the lodge itself. With a bit of luck we can often show our new guests a bear within an hour or so of landing and getting on the water. My payment is the joy that many of them express when they see their first grizzly bear. For many guests, this is one more tick off their personal bucket list. Many people have travelled the world to experience wildlife and the grizzly bear is considered one of the top of the world wildlife trophies to see in the natural world. I am very lucky to work in a place where we have excellent assurance of seeing one everyday.

There are some very good reasons why the bears are here and why our guests can be assured of seeing one. Guests spend hours of their time planning their trip and spend al lot of money in hopes of a close encounter with a grizzly bear.

The big motivation for bears to hang around the cove are the food resources. In the spring, sedge provides immediate nutrients and helps to maintain their body weight over the summer. As the tide ebbs daily, the bears move down the exposed beach to roll rocks over and slurp up intertidal life such as gunnels, insects, arthropods, shore crabs as well as mussells and barnacles.

Berries grow in the forest beginning in late June with Salmon berries and progressing through summer and fall with many others such as huckleberries, currants, elderberries and ending up with salal and Pacific crab apples.

Mating season begins in late May and through June so the bears know that there is a good chance of finding a mate here. It is always the most exciting season with many encounters with large males interacting with the females as well as the possibility of bear fights for dominance and the right to be with a favorite mate. This season we watched our favorite young bear get chased away from his mom so she could go off with Clyde. Peanut was a hesitant bachelor but caught on by salmon time. Next year we may get to see Bella chase her cubs off to begin the baby cycle over again. Hopefully Lenore will come home with a pair of cubs to see too.

Around this time of the season, the females bring their new born cubs down to the beach to forage as well. There are always plenty of oohs and aahs when guests see the little cubs. We run "name the cubs" contests at the lodge, (no cheesy names please) and it is always interesting to see the names that our international guests come up with.

Salmon season begins at the end of July and early August. Now is when the bears begin to pack on the weight they need to make it through another winter. The river mouth and the tree stand are favorite hangouts for the bears looking for the first salmon returns. As salmon become more numerous the bears move up river toward the spawning channel where they will become more concentrated.

Many other reasons help keep bears in the Glendale area. A small but safe no hunting zone keeps trophy hunters away from our bears. We continue to strive towards a hunting ban of coastal grizzly bears, but our government is very attached to the dollars these hunts bring in.

The forest and healthy river provide great food, safety, mating, hibernation and diversity of life habitat that the bears need for a fruitful, healthy life.

We continue to weigh the costs and benefits to the bears of being too habitualized to bear watchers. We strive to maintain safe observation distances, keep time schedules, and to stay on regular paths so none of the bears are shocked or surprised when we meet. We do not carry food or dump garbage that the bears may pick up and begin to associate us as a food source. We travel in groups, make a bit of noise and carry pepper spray as a deterrent if ever approached too closely by a menacing bear. We have never had to resort to that.

This season my guests and I have had many experiences with bears that we will all remember for years to come. From the comments in the guest book, we continue to be one of the highlights of most of our guests holidays. On Trip Advisor, Knight Inlet Lodge was voted #5 in the world as a destination. This is a designation voted on by our guests and one that we are all very proud of. It shows how hard we work for our guests and how successful we continue to be at giving our worldwide travellers a quality grizzly experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment