Due to close human-bear encounters on the old bridge, the authorities decided to build a new, safer one. Find more information here!
New Elevated Bridge and Boardwalk
New boardwalk and an elevated bridge across the Brooks River in Katmai National Park took the place of the old river-leveled bridge. Many tourists used to cross the old one, but after many brown bears started to appear here, the bridge has been more or less abandoned.
That is why the National Park Service decided to develop a project which would bring relief to the frequent bear-jams.
After more than a decade in the making, the replacement of the old bridge finally reached its end. Park Superintendent Mark Strum states that each stage of the project took some time. It involved distinctive stakeholder groups, and all of the designing, planning, project development, construction, and funding had to be done with extra care and attention.
One of the most frequent sights in this park on the Alaska Peninsula are bears fishing for salmon. The park officials estimate that around 2,200 brown bears live in this area. This number exceeds the number of people who live in the Peninsula.
Brown bears have half a year to feed themselves a year’s worth of food. This way, the animals ensure their survival during the winter, as the agency stated.
The trendy venue is Brooks Camp. Here, the visitors have three platforms from which they can go and watch the bears from a safe distance. The prevalent platform is the one at the waterfall. At this spot, fish concentrate before leaping past the barrier. Hungry bears are waiting there to grab them instantly.
In order to reach any of the three platforms, visitors must cross the river. Since the old bridge seems to be the bears’ favorite, it is more often than not closed due to a bear-jam, Karen Garthwait, Park Service spokesman claims.
There must always be a fifty-yard separation between people and bears, so rangers enforce this. If there is a bear close or on the bridge, rangers have to close it, and it remains so until the animal decides to move.
We do not chase the bears away, Garthwaite added. It is a Park Services’ duty to preserve these noble animals. The best way to do so is by allowing the bears to feed naturally, as they would typically do, and behave accordingly. If the Rangers try to chase them, it would be considered as a human intervention on the animal and its habitat and way of life. That is why the bridge makes the best possible solution.
New and Improved Bridge Will Help Visitors Observe Wildlife Safely
The new structure is 1,200 feet long, and its height varies from eight to ten feet. That depends on topography and will let the bears pass below, Garthwaite said. The overall cost was $5.6 million.
The vital thing to note is the fact that the bridge has bear-proof gates on each end. It is the safest bridge at this location anyone could have ever built.
The arrival of salmon starts in June every year. Grown bears choose to feed on salmon, while the cubs are pretty small and vulnerable; therefore, an easy target for dominant males.
The vast majority of bears are usually seen by the river in mid-July, as the Park Service claims. Fish aren’t as concentrated in August, so the bears disperse by then. But they do return in September when salmon are weakened, spawn, and die. At that time, bears tend to catch dying and dead fish in the slower sections of the river, the agency added.
With this new bridge, the visitors will have an additional platform to watch wildlife. We expect the ribbon-cutting event to occur on June 29.