The brown bears I’m observing for my field notes assignment are found in Katmai National Park & Reserve in Alaska, USA. According to the Katmai website, there are approximately 2,200 brown bears inhabiting the Park, and, in their words: “As many bear populations around the world decline, Katmai provides some of the few remaining unaltered habitats for these amazing creatures. At Katmai, scientists are able to study bears in their natural habitat, visitors are able to enjoy unparalleled viewing opportunities, and the bears are able to continue their life cycle largely undisturbed.”

For a geographical context, here’s a series of sequentially more zoomed-in maps (via Google Maps) of the location of Katmai National Park & Reserve in Alaska, the Brooks River & Falls, and the corresponding live webcams which allow for Internet-wide viewing of brown bears at Katmai.

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On this last map image, you can see the sites of the three main bear-viewing cameras, or “bearcams”, located at the Brooks Falls Platform, the Riffles Platform, and the Lower River Platform. These are the three webcams I will be using to view the bears for my field observations. For more information on these bearcams and other wildlife webcams at Katmai, see the Webcams page on the Katmai website.

From the Katmai website, some information on the bears, how to view them, and where/when they are most commonly seen:

“A bear’s waking hours are often dominated by their search for food. Outside of their denning season, bears predictably congregate in food rich areas throughout Katmai. Some areas of Katmai National Park, like the food rich Pacific coast, support some of the highest densities of bears ever documented… If you know what foods bears prefer to eat and when that food is most abundant, accessible, and nutritious, then you will be able to find many areas in Katmai to observe these fascinating animals… At Brooks Camp, brown bears congregate to feed on sockeye salmon in the Brooks River… There are many, many backcountry locations that offer bear watching opportunities in season… However, thick vegetation and rugged terrain can make seeing those bears difficult… For many people the most rewarding backcountry bear watching locations are where bears feed on sedges, clams, and salmon. In spring and early summer, bears migrate to open meadows to feed on sedges and dig for clams on the nearby mudflats. Later in the summer and fall, bears are more easily and consistently seen along salmon streams.” (Source: National Park Service: Bear Watching in Katmai National Park & Reserve)

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Image Source: National Park Service

The links I’m using for the bearcams are as follows:

Brooks Falls (LIVE), via YouTube: The most popular bearcam at Katmai, at a spot on the Brooks River where bears come to fish for salmon, very popular both for live visitors to watch and for the LIVE webcam feed. It is said that in July, up to 25 bears at a time have been known to come feed at this location!

Lower River (LIVE), via YouTube: Known as a great place to watch mothers and cubs in July, and a place where most bears come to fish later in the summer, at the mouth of the Brooks River.

The Riffles, via Explore.org: Bears who may not be able to compete for salmon at the Brooks Falls location come to The Riffles, a spot slightly downstream of the Falls, to feed instead. This feed is not live, but highlights of activity are complied regularly, so there are still opportunities for observation at this site.

River Watch, via Explore.org: This fourth webcam is also not a consistently live feed, but provides either a ground level view or an underwater view of the location at Brooks Falls, for an alternative view of that location.

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