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Katmai Bear Study Continues

Katmai National Park

A three-year study at Katmai National Park has hit the mid-point. Changing Tides is the name of the research project looking at, among other things, food resources for bears along coastal areas. 

“We collar the bears and do the health assessments in May, we capture them again in July and we will recapture them in October and remove those collars. And what we’re really looking at is the difference between the spring weight and body condition and then the fall. So pre-salmon, essentially, and then post-salmon," said Carissa Turner, Coastal Biologist at Katmai.

What the bears find to eat in the spring is just as important as the fall salmon and berry feast. The study is also taking a look at things like mussels and clams. More insight into the health and condition of those food sources can help researches learn even more about Katmai’s bears and if there’s any connection to or concern about climate change.

“We’re also concerned about human caused disturbances, such as oil spills, grounding of vessels; wondering how our inter-tidal resources will be impacted by changes in the environment and ultimately how that will impact bears and other terrestrial wildlife that rely on them.”

Eight bears were recaptured in July and found to be in generally good health. All were females, weighing as much as 445 pounds and ranging in age from four years old to more than 20.