Wolf Song of Alaska News

Brooks Camp Visitors Shocked by Sight of Grizzly Killing Cub

Letters / Anchorage Daily News / January 26, 2008

This is in response to Craig Medred's Jan. 20 column "Nature isn't Disneyland; it's savage and unyielding."

My wife and I worked and met at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park, where I was a fishing guide. In the late 1980s, my wife and I accompanied a couple of good friends who were leading a group from California to Brooks Camp to view bears.

At Brooks Falls, several of the group witnessed the killing and subsequent consuming of a bear cub by a large boar. Many returned to camp angry and horrified at what they had witnessed. The experience almost ruined the trip for a few of them. Even though it's common for male bears to kill and eat cubs, it's seldom witnessed by humans. I felt those people were lucky to have witness such a powerful, dramatic, life-and-death biological event. This bear behavior is one of the things that has kept bear populations healthy and in balance for millennia. After all, brown bears have no natural predators (other than man) and the only other way to avoid overpopulation is starvation and disease.

For some on this trip, it appeared that nature was a place where all the animals lived in happy, harmonious friendship. The real natural world is based more on the predator/prey relationship rather than friendship.

By the way, man is an animal, a predator (sometimes prey) and a part of the natural world.

-- Stephen Ortland

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