Fish fights: Alaska’s Katmai in salmon season

Just ask the rangers at Katmai National Park who are responsible for keeping a hoard of summer tourists safe in country where territorial bears plod grassy trails that overlap with people trails. Streams are full of anglers and big brown tanks vying for the same salmon returning to spawn.

One safety measure can be seen every day or three: a ranger shouting at a bear as it wanders uncomfortably close to Brooks Lodge cabins, the dining hall, or the park’s campgrounds. If that fails, sometimes throwing small rocks works. Bear spray, almost never used, is the second to last resort.

That and other efforts — including an electrified fence surrounding the campground, making sure people walk in groups and make noise, and keeping people and bears separated by 50 yards or more — has avoided human deaths at Katmai (with the exception of two enthusiasts known to crawl into bear dens) and has kept rangers from needing to kill bears since 1982.

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About the author

Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is the online editor for National Fisherman.

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