Question: What kind of bear is best?
That’s a ridiculous question.
The McNeil bear is the coolest kind of bear.
Fact: Bears eat salmon. Bears. Salmon. McNeil River, Alaska.
Let’s go over a few facts about the proposed Pebble Mine in true Dwight Schrute fashion. The industrial port and road of the Pebble Mine would be only 11 miles away from the bears. Fact: Bears roam. Increased encounters between bears and humans will create a dangerous environment at McNeil River. Why? Thanks to our buddy Larry, humans at McNeil River State Game Sanctuary are predictable and follow a very specific bear viewing etiquette. Humans in the real world do not have trained guides or rules, and the trust of the bears will be jeopardized if humans act differently around them. Losing the ability to view bears safely in their natural environment will be devastating.
Unfortunately, Pebble only thinks they need to study bears within 3 miles of their proposed mine infrastructure. In bear distance, 3 miles is nothing. Bears require large areas to wander, eat, and thrive. Some of the bears who feed at McNeil River are also known to travel to rivers near the proposed mine and feed on sockeye salmon. McNeil River is a one of a kind destination with a very unique opportunity that allows biologists to study and track bears throughout their lives. The largest congregation of brown bears in the world needs a large area to reside, which should not be broken up with industrialization. The Pebble Mine, road corridor, power plant, and port will break up bear habitat and negatively alter bear activity.
Salmon provide nutrient rich fuel for growing bears, and it is an amazing experience to watch the bears fish in the river. Reduced Salmon runs in Bristol Bay would hurt bear populations. Less food means less bears-it’s that simple. Let’s be honest, reduced salmon runs also mean less delicious salmon dinner for humans as well. Furthermore, we’d need a lot more time to discuss the economic impact and importance of the salmon to the fishing industry in Alaska.
Economic impacts of recklessly invading the world’s largest congregation of brown bear habitat would spread far and wide. Sure, the mine would bring jobs. However, bear viewing provides Alaska with plenty of employment opportunities from bear guides to pilots to Fish & Game biologists. Alaska can thank the bear viewing industry for a whopping $36.5 million and 490 jobs. Tourism brings Alaska a lot of traffic, and we left trail of money from Anchorage to Homer to McNeil River on our bear viewing trip.
We must always remember that we are guests in the bear’s home, and we must respect their house rules. Fact: Industrialization near a wildlife sanctuary will endanger bears and humans alike.
Our goal is to raise $500 to give to Friends of McNeil River. We’re 20% there! Go shopping for a good cause.