What’s big and brown and loves salmon?

A Kodiak Brown Bear

Bears are the iconic wildlife of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. They are famous for their size, unique in their location, and legendary in myth and imagination. Thousands of Kodiak brown bears call Alaska’s Kodiak Archipelago home, roaming the rugged mountains, fishing the salmon streams, and feasting on berries each summer and fall.

A sow and cubs look out over a prime fishing area.

The refuge encompasses sections of Kodiak Island, Uganik Island, Ban Island, and part of Afognak Island. It was created in 1941 to conserve Kodiak brown bears and their habitat. The Kodiak Archipelago is located in the Gulf of Alaska, about 250 miles south of Anchorage.

This adult female bear pauses from fishing. She is at the beginning of her summer weight gain and will put on a lot more pounds before denning in October.

Three young bear cubs explore the refuge with mom nearby

Kodiak Refuge biologists are very interested in how bears move across their landscape to maximize their access to food over the summer and fall.

Four cubs in a litter is less common than 2–3, and usually indicates that the adult female had a good summer with lots of access to food resources before going in to the den for the winter and giving birth.

Cubs of the year (COY) are cubs in their first summer (left). Bears in their second summer are “yearlings” and some cubs may even spend a third summer with their mother

Mothers with cubs need extra space and respect: they are more likely to behave defensively if they perceive a threat

Salmon is a key resource for coastal brown bears; interior grizzlies have little to no access to salmon.

All brown bears have a pronounced hump (muscle) on their shoulders and “dished” or concave face. Two ways to tell the difference between brown and black bears, which have a straight nosed profile and no hump.

A female Kodiak brown bear charges after an elusive salmon.

Wildlife viewing and photography is a priority public use on Kodiak Refuge.

Floatplanes land at Frazer Lake for the 3/4 mile trail to the Dog Salmon Falls and Fish Pass, where a bear viewing area allows visitors to observe bears. The bear viewing area looks out over the Dog Salmon River as it winds its way down to the ocean.

Kodiak Brown Bear FAQ How big are Kodiak brown bears? What can I do to stay safe in brown bear country? Is a Kodiak Brown Bear different from a coastal brown bear? We answer some of your questions about the bears, safety in bear country, and bear viewing opportunities on the refuge. http://bit.ly/2Jij60w

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In Alaska we are shared stewards of world renowned natural resources and our nation’s last true wild places. Our hope is that each generation has the opportunity to live with, live from, discover and enjoy the wildness of this awe-inspiring land and the people who love and depend on it.

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