By Breanna Giovanniello (WWF On-line Advertising and marketing Senior Specialist) and Katy Lai (WWF Director, Personal Finance Sector Technique and Engagement)
Our journey started in Homer, Alaska, also referred to as the “Halibut Capital of the World”. Homer is a small, however vibrant fishing city perched on Kachemak Bay, close to the underside of the Kenai Peninsula. Homer is surrounded by a big space of protected state land the place the local people and its essential wildlife inhabitants of over 100 chicken species and a big native moose inhabitants coexist.
They are saying that the climate in Alaska is predictably unpredictable, which we discovered to be very a lot true. On the day we had been scheduled to fly in a bush airplane over to Bear Camp, we had been greeted with an unlucky quantity of fog and no solution to land on the seashore over by camp. We had been desperate to spend as a lot time as we might with the bears, nevertheless, our delay allowed us to expertise the wildlife and nature round Homer.
We noticed sea otters from our resort balcony, bald eagles nesting with their chicks on a pole exterior our resort foyer, and sandhill cranes on a short drive into city. On a small hike, we noticed wildflowers, salt marshes, and glaciers simply throughout Kachemak Bay, and heard tales in regards to the wild neighbors that frequent these areas—moose and black bears. An abundance of nature earlier than even setting foot at Bear Camp.
Once we lastly acquired the go-ahead to fly, we had been elated. The range and grandeur of the panorama was one thing that would solely be actually appreciated from an aerial view; snow-covered volcanoes, large glaciers, rivers working by means of meadows, lush forests, and extra. A surreal 45 minutes later, we touched down on a pristine seashore proper in entrance of Nat Hab’s Alaska Bear Camp. After a fast tour and an opportunity to drop our luggage off in our tents, we set off for our first bear-viewing expedition.
Bear Camp sits on non-public land, the location of a historic homestead on the ancestral land of the Dena’ina Athabascan individuals, surrounded by Lake Clark Nationwide Park, one of many world’s most famous bear-viewing locations. Johnny, one in all our expedition leaders, toured us across the authentic homestead on the property the place we discovered extra in regards to the intrepid homesteader, Wayne Byers, in addition to how homesteading got here to be an necessary a part of Alaskan historical past.
The Bear Camp Expedition Leaders are skilled naturalists and bear consultants. Johnny and Mike taught us a lot about bear conduct and coached us in correct etiquette for respectful viewing, together with methods to navigate shut (and thrilling) bear encounters. It was extraordinary to be friends within the houses of those magnificent creatures and observe their every day lives with out being perceived as a menace (or prey).
The abundance of meals on this space permits brown bears to assemble in excessive densities with out battle. We noticed bears digging for razor clams, grazing in sedge meadows, fishing for salmon, and nursing their cubs. We had been additionally in a position to witness the playful nature of moms and their cubs wrestling on tidal flats, working by means of the woods, swimming within the rivers, and snoozing within the solar—a very exceptional expertise.
When bear-viewing, we’re reminded that our presence mustn’t affect the bear’s conduct and that the animals ought to at all times be capable to pursue their actions undisturbed. How does that translate to improvement in southwest Alaska?
Nat Hab’s Bear Camp sits solely 70 miles away from the Pebble Mine challenge, a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. For greater than a decade, the Pebble Mine challenge has threatened the wealthy wildlife, fish-fueled financial system, and bustling native communities of this southwest area of Alaska.
Final 12 months, the Pedro Bay Company, which incorporates over 200 shareholders of Aleut, Yupik, and Athabascan descent, protected their land by permitting the environmental nonprofit The Conservation Fund to buy improvement rights on greater than 44,000 acres of land as conservation easements that may prohibit the event of the land in perpetuity. In early 2023, the EPA took one other main step towards defending this space by banning the disposal of mine waste in a part of the Bristol Bay watershed.
As we have a good time this momentous conservation win, WWF is constant to work with the communities in Bristol Bay to make sure the financial and environmental sustainability of the area. Very similar to bear-viewing, WWF’s mission is for individuals to reside in concord with wildlife and nature striving to ensure that human presence doesn’t negatively affect the conduct of those bears, sea otters, eagles, moose, caribou, and plenty of extra unbelievable species.