by the Division of Wildlife Conservation Staff
It’s a new year, and time to prepare for new adventures!
If you’ve ever wanted to view the extraordinary Alaskan brown bear or the massive Pacific walrus up close in their natural environment, then the wildlife viewing programs at McNeil River State Game Sanctuary or the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary could be your next big adventure.
Each summer Alaska Peninsula brown bears gather at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary to feast on salmon returning to their natal streams. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game manages a guided bear viewing program at the sanctuary and some lucky visitors will be there to observe the bears, up close and personal, guided each day by Department wildlife guides.
Visitors are selected by lottery and, if drawn, Alaska residents pay a $225 permit fee and nonresidents $525. Lottery applications for this summer viewing program must be submitted by midnight on March 1. A nonrefundable application fee of $30 per person is required.
Perhaps you’re seeking a remote island adventure. Then a trip to the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary in Bristol Bay might by for you. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game manages a campground and viewing program at Round Island, remotely located in the northern reaches of Bristol Bay.
Lucky visitors that undertake the journey and brave the fickle weather are rewarded by the island’s wildlife treasures and a chance to test their outdoor skills.
In between storms the island emerges as a lush green paradise teaming with wildlife. Each spring and summer the island’s shorelines host hundreds to thousands of Pacific walruses as they sun themselves in between feeding forays at sea.
Hundreds of Steller sea lions also haulout at Round Island and a cacophony of thousands of seabirds nest along the island’s cliffs.
For information on the McNeil River bear viewing program and application process, go to: http://www.mcneilriver.adfg.alaska.gov. For information on visiting the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary, go to: http://www.walrusislands.adfg.alaska.gov. Or contact Lands and Refuges Manager Ed Weiss at 907-267-2189 or [email protected].