Another bear species, living along the North Alaskan coastline, is the polar bear weighing between 900-1600 pounds. Due to both human “over-harvesting” and recurring climate change, the polar bear populations have steadily declined in the last 50 years. This has led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider the polar bear threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Measures are being taken to protect the polar bear including joint agreement between Russia, Alaskan Natives, and Americans. In 2008 it was estimated that between 20,000-25,000 polar bears still exist in the wild. To see how you can help go to savethearctic.org.
|A wild black bear.|
On the other hand, the Grizzly we saw in Denali National Park gave us ample time to capture her and her cubs on camera. She was much further away from us than the black bear, yet this distance allowed us to safely watch and observe. We even got to meet with a bear biologist who works with the parks monitoring and maintaining the bear populations. One of her jobs was to tranquilize and collar the bears with radio transmitters so they could track its position. She knew all sorts of things about bears and even had a great story about a bear who woke up as she was trying to collar it.
While we did see both bears at the conservation center, I found watching the bears in the wild to be far more enlightening. To see these bears as they should be, completely wild and completely free, helped me further appreciate how remarkable and beautiful the natural world is. Watching that Grizzly guide its young through the open tundra, I could not help but feel overwhelmed by not only its presence, but what it represents. For me the world does not exist in cities, and malls, and restaurants; but out there with that Grizzly. That is where life truly begins and ends. That is where the magic of being alive really lives. This experience has made me feel something I cannot explain, but will always remember and go back to. I know that no matter what, that mother and her children must be protected. Because it isn't just about human life. All life matters and all life is beautiful. These bears offer a testament to that.