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Meet Alaska's Brown Bears with Peter Witt

In August, 2023 my wife and I visited Katmai National Park in Alaska, home of brown bears.  Our goal was to see the bears fishing for Salmon at Brooks Falls, an often-photographed spot where the bears stand on top of the falls or just below the falls to catch salmon as they make their way up stream to spawn. During the summer, on any given day, up to 20 different bears. Additional bears can be seen along the river in other parts of the park. We arrived by float plane, went to a brief “bear school,” to learn what to do if we encounter a bear while walking along the pathsin the park (don’t run, move into the woods, keep talking, no yelling), then proceeded to platforms alongthe riverbank near the falls. Gates control access to the platforms so viewing isn’t interrupted by bear intruders.

Over three days we saw a variety of bear behaviors: bears waiting on the top of the falls to catch a salmon as it tried to jump its way up the falls; mothers teaching their cubs to catch salmon below the falls; bears sitting on rocks resting; bears thrusting their heads underwater looking for salmon or standing in the water moving their heads back and forth looking for salmon. All and all it was a rich visual experience accompanied by the sound of the river going over the falls. We also spent time down river watching the bears in calmer water swimming, standing on their hind legs surveying their territory, and catching salmon in the gentle afternoon sun. At the end of each day we took a float plane back to our lodge to savor our experiences, review our pictures, and talk about how lucky we were to have hadthis experience.     ~ Peter A Witt


A Delicious Breakfast


A Protective Mommy


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A Cleansing Dip

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Catch of the Day

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Taking a breather

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A Frolicking Bear? 

Image by Alexis Mette

Peter A. Witt is a Texas poet, avid birder/photographer, and researcher/writer of family history. He started writing poetry after 42 years as a university professor as a way of recapturing my storytelling and creative writing abilities, skills lost in the stultifying world of academic writing. His work has appeared in several online poetry publications including Fleas on the Dog, Open Skies Quarterly, and Active Muse.

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