An adult female bear peers through a dense thicket of cow parsnip. During the summer months, Kodiak turns a lush, vibrant green as thick vegetation carpets the island. Kodiak bears balance their diet with a variety of plants, including grass. Photo by Lisa Hupp.
With 1.9-million acres to wander and no portion more than 15 miles from the Pacific, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge includes some of the most diverse habitat on the planet, covering the southern two-thirds of Kodiak Island, all of Ban and Uganik islands, and a section of Afognak Island. Though notorious for its famed denizen, the Kodiak brown bear, a genetically distinct subspecies of browns/grizzlies, the refuge protects more than just big bruins. Consider that among the lush fjords, valleys, wetlands, and 4,000-foot peaks, more than 1,000 pairs of nesting bald eagles claim the area as their home, along with 250 species of migrating or breeding fish, birds, and mammals. Salmon nourish the eagles, along with approximately 3,000 bears, as the fish wriggle and spawn in more than 100 streams within the refuge’s ecosystem.
In 1941, President Roosevelt proclaimed the area a refuge in order to protect Kodiak bears; however, other species thrived from the designation. Today, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge remains one of the largest intact and pure island environs on the planet. – introduction by Michelle Theall
Bear cubs stay close to their mothers during their first summer, following wherever she goes. The sign and wooden steps are no longer there.
Lisa Hupp spent 15 years living in Kodiak, and nearly a decade working for Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge as a park ranger and outreach specialist. She uses wildlife and landscape photography as a way to connect people with the remote wonders of Alaska’s public lands.