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Coastal Brown Bears Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Lake Clark is one of the premiere locations to view coastal brown bears in the wild, and it's one of my favorite places for photography. . Brown bears and grizzlies are both names for the same subspecies -Ursus arctic horribilis. The difference between the two is their geographic location which affects their diet, size and behavior. The brown bears here along the coast have a plentiful supply of food from spring until hibernation. Sedges in the meadows, clams in the tidal flats and streams filled with salmon create a diet that allow the males to weigh as much as 1000 pounds and females can weigh up to 700 pounds or more.

Sows bring their spring cubs to the meadows in July, when mating season is over and the boars don't pose as much of a threat.

The bears here have never been hunted nor injured by people, nor have they been accustomed to acquiring food from humans. Instead they see people on a daily basis behaving in a way that is predictable and does not pose a threat. The high population of bears here that have a high tolerance of people make it one of the best bear viewing opportunities in the world.

The antics of the spring cubs provide constant entertainment.

Cubs typically spend the first 2 years with their moms before they are "kicked out" the following spring when the sow is ready to breed again.

The bonds between the cubs and sow are strong.
The guides call her "Old Sow" and have watched her over many years.

A beautiful, mature sow enjoys some time alone in the meadow while her cubs are safely napping high in a tree out of harm's way.

These juveniles, the first or second summer on their own, still like to spend a lot of time at play.

These two have formed a bond, and they will have a better chance of surviving because of this. By next summer, they will probably strike out on their own.

Photo opportunities are many and varied.

Spectacular scenery provides a backdrop for all of the bear-viewing.

Mt. Slope is easily recognizable from many of the locations near the creeks and meadows.

Fireweed is abundant during July and August.

The flight to the lodge is beautiful and educational.

If the weather cooperates, wonderful views of Mount Iliamna are seen on the way to the lodge. The last major eruption of this 10,016 ft volcano was in 1867.

Silver Salmon Creek Lodge provides comfortable lodging, wonderful food and outstanding guides.

Our small group typically stays in our own cabin - Iliamna House. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a kitchen, and a living area. We have our own wood-burning stove to keep us warm and help us dry out after coastal rain showers.

A boat trip to Duck Island for provides great views of and other seabirds.

Most of them are Horned Puffins....

But there are also some Tufted Puffins.

Common murres

Sedge and other grasses are a primary food source before the salmon runs.
Relaxing at the beach.
Second-year cubs settle in before a nap.
Mom and cubs stop by the lodge for a visit and back scratch.

Juveniles find flounder and other protein sources until they are proficient at catching salmon.

There is much splashing and diving before success.

Good day for the bear - bad day for the salmon!

All too soon it's time to head home.
A final glimpse of Silver Salmon Creek Lodge.
And then it's back over the glaciers and waterways.
Cook Inlet on the way back to Anchorage.

© Cindy Cone Photography, 2015-20121