What’s big and brown and loves salmon?

Bears are the iconic wildlife of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
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. Photo credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS; map courtesy of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.
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. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
Three young bear cubs explore the refuge with mom nearby. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
Salmon, greens, and berries are the mainstay of the Kodiak brown bear diet. Red elderberry are a particularly important berry for bears on Kodiak, and are higher in protein content than many other berries. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS and Caroline Cheung/USFWS.
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. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
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 (likely the cubs on the right). Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
Mothers with cubs need extra space and respect: they are more likely to behave defensively if they perceive a threat. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
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. These are two ways to tell the difference between brown and black bears, which have a straight nosed profile and no hump. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
A female Kodiak brown bear charges after an elusive salmon. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
Wildlife viewing and photography is a priority public use on Kodiak Refuge. Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS
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. Photo credits: Lisa Hupp/USFWS

EXPLORE MORE:

Kodiak Refuge Photo Albums

“Favorite Experience” — Amazing things to see and do at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska:

Tour the Frazer Bear Viewing area in 360 degree video:

Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service