Bears at McNeil River- An Essential Meal

BEARS AT MCNEIL RIVER – An Essential Mealmusic; ambience: riverEvery summer, the McNeil River in Alaska is filled with spawning salmon. It’s an annual feast that bears in this region have come to rely on. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.As salmon head upstream in the McNeil River, there’s a stretch of waterfalls and shallow water where they become easy pickings for bears. Every July as many as 120 grizzlies crowd around the falls to gorge themselves on fish. According to Larry Aumiller, the Manager of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, it’s become an essential part of the bears’ year.”The fact that these bears are able to get such an enormous quantity of fish is real important to them. This is sort of their Thanksgiving, their Christmas, everything all wrapped up in one. So for the typical bear that stays 3 to 4 weeks, this is the most important 3 to 4 weeks of their annual cycle. And if you think about that for a minute, they’re essentially in the den for six months, not eating, not drinking, and so for the other six months they have to give themselves sustenance that lasts them twelve. It’s critical, and if they don’t get the food, it does affect reproductivity. If a female’s not fit nutritionally, she won’t conceive.”There’s so many bears competing for fish at McNeil that only the dominant males are guaranteed a meal. That makes for problems in the years when the salmon aren’t so plentiful.”Salmon typically have real peaks and valleys associated with their numbers. And in the real spectacular years when there’s lots of fish, there’s actually quite a bit of waste, which translates to helping younger bears further down the stream in the form of scraps. It’s those less dominant bears that suffer if the run’s not very good.And you know, if it happens for just one or two years, it’s not too big of a deal, but if it continues, of course, these bears will then drift away and have to find other sources of food.”I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Bears at McNeil River- An Essential Meal

Bears at Alaska's McNeil River have come to rely on an annual fish feast.
Air Date:07/26/2021
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BEARS AT MCNEIL RIVER - An Essential Mealmusic; ambience: riverEvery summer, the McNeil River in Alaska is filled with spawning salmon. It's an annual feast that bears in this region have come to rely on. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.As salmon head upstream in the McNeil River, there's a stretch of waterfalls and shallow water where they become easy pickings for bears. Every July as many as 120 grizzlies crowd around the falls to gorge themselves on fish. According to Larry Aumiller, the Manager of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, it's become an essential part of the bears' year."The fact that these bears are able to get such an enormous quantity of fish is real important to them. This is sort of their Thanksgiving, their Christmas, everything all wrapped up in one. So for the typical bear that stays 3 to 4 weeks, this is the most important 3 to 4 weeks of their annual cycle. And if you think about that for a minute, they're essentially in the den for six months, not eating, not drinking, and so for the other six months they have to give themselves sustenance that lasts them twelve. It's critical, and if they don't get the food, it does affect reproductivity. If a female's not fit nutritionally, she won't conceive."There's so many bears competing for fish at McNeil that only the dominant males are guaranteed a meal. That makes for problems in the years when the salmon aren't so plentiful."Salmon typically have real peaks and valleys associated with their numbers. And in the real spectacular years when there's lots of fish, there's actually quite a bit of waste, which translates to helping younger bears further down the stream in the form of scraps. It's those less dominant bears that suffer if the run's not very good.And you know, if it happens for just one or two years, it's not too big of a deal, but if it continues, of course, these bears will then drift away and have to find other sources of food."I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.