The young protagonist in my novel, Elena, is shocked to learn about the vicious side of nature; the fight for survival. It is something I personally had little experience of until I moved to Canada and became exposed to wildlife in a way that isn’t possible in a country as stripped of its wilderness as the UK.
A trip north to Alaska during the salmon run was particularly eye opening on the subject of survival. These photos were taken at the Fish Creek Observation Site in Hyder, Alaska. Just across the border from Stewart, BC, the tiny community of Hyder is completely isolated from the rest of the USA. The road that leads visitors into the southernmost strip of America’s northernmost state eventually pops back out into Canada again, leaving no direct route by land to travel further into Alaska. It is amazing that the community of Hyder itself has managed to survive in that location. Most people that travel along that road are tourists drawn by the area’s main attraction; its grizzly bears.
The Fish Creek Observation Site is run by the USDA Forest Service and is essentially a long platform overlooking a creek that swells with spawning chum and pink salmon during the summer months. While staff monitor bears and tourists, grizzlies and black bears make their way up the creek, tempted by the glut of exhausted and struggling fish.
The grizzlies had no trouble catching dinner, and the fish that escaped them did so simply because there were so many more fish than the bears could eat. That was their survival tactic, it seems.
A bit of patience is required to see the bears in action. This is just one of the areas they roam through, and there are no guarantees that their visits will coincide with yours. The staff were very helpful in advising us on when to time our visits based on when the bears had been spotted during the preceding days, and we were able to watch several grizzlies in action over a couple of visits to the site.