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Monday, October 7, 2013

Eagles, Owls and Bears Oh My, A Retrospective Tales of Two Travellers Part 5

Eagles, Owls and Other Raptors

We were lucky to see lots and lots of Bald eagles in Sitka, including a regular adult visitor and a juvenile bird as well, that fished very close to where we were staying.  But a visit to the Alaska Raptor Centre also allowed us to see eagles and owls and other raptors up close and personal.  The Raptor Centre aims to rehabilitate and release the birds back into the wild, however some are so badly injured that this is not possible and so these beautiful birds are kept and used as part of the education experience, which is also a huge part of why the Raptor Centre exists.  

They receive birds from all over Alaska (and if I remember rightly even from other parts of America).  Bald eagles are regularly injured by man, not maliciously but because they share what once was wild areas, one of the common injuries is caused by eagles flying into power lines and breaking their wings.

I'm calling this the I See You series, this is the main educational eagle used (just can't remember the name.

Snowy Owl

Tootsie, who you meet as you enter the Education Centre/Gift Shop/Office area.

We were even lucky enough to see an adult Bald eagle eating a fish, surrounded by Ravens waiting for their share (see sequence of 10 photos below - taken by my hubby).  What I love about this is that the Tlingit (pronounced KLIN-kit) Alaskan Native Indians are divided into two clans within each Tribe - the Wolf/Eagles Moiety and the Raven Moiety, in Sitka it is Eagles and Ravens rather than Wolves and Ravens and their Tribe is known as Outside Edge of a Branch Tribe (obviously in their language it looks different - check out this PDF for more information on Tlingit Tribes).

Bears Oh My 

While we were not privileged to see any brown bears in the wild, we did travel out to the Fortress of the Bear Rehabilitation Project.  Fortress of the Bear is a not for profit organisation run by a man who love bears.  The Fortress takes in nuisance bears and where possible re-home them at zoos and other facilities.  They also have 5 bears currently in residence at the Fortress, they are homed in two huge circular concrete walled areas (the remains of a pulp mill plant) and while I found it confronting, the love that these people have for bears is amazing.  With no government support they have raised money, to save the bears.  The bears they have kept are too humanised to release into the wild and would struggle with other zoo bears, so rather than euthanise them, they provide a home and care and allow the public to visit at a modest entry fee to support the upkeep of the bears.

From the Fortress of the Bear website : The Brown bears of Southeast Alaska represent a distinct population, genetically dissimilar from any other bear. Research suggests these bears are remnants of a Polar bear population stranded in Southeast Alaska following the last ice age. They have adapted to the rain forest environment and learned specific behaviors and marvelous survival skills. They successfully hunt everything from mountain goats to seals. Their ability to adapt sometimes brings them into conflict with their upright urban neighbors. The means to deal with these bears has been limited or non-existent. Our goal is to seek a solution that is better than simply shooting them.

It is really obvious when you listen to them talk about the bears in their care, just how much they love these bears.  The bears respond in kind and it is obvious they know the voices of their carers.  The bears do not perform, although they do respond knowing that food is coming on certain cues (see the first two groups of photos below).

I left Fortress with mixed feelings, while I would love the bears to be free and not in concrete walls, I know that they are loved and would more than likely be dead if it wasn't for the Fortress. And without government funding living in the remains of a pulp mill is the best that is possible at the moment.  There is a vision to build a new Fortress and I'm hoping they will be successful with this outcome, their passion for the bears deserves nothing less than fulfilling their wish to provide a real home and an education centre for the brown bears of Alaska.

Thanks for popping by, if you would like to donate to either of the rehabilitation centres mentioned here, I am sure they would appreciate your donation.  xxxx


  1. Oh my. Stunning. I have a huge weakness for all of the raptors - and a love of bears. Not this week, but next I hope I can squeeze a little money out for the rehabilitation centres.
    A beautiful post - thank you.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Sorry had to delete my comment as I didn't proof read and had my fingers on all the wrong keys LOL. What I meant to say was, hope you enjoy the latest photos taken by my daughter's father in law. They are stunning. Thanks also for making a donation, I have sent a little bit to them even though they are on the other side of the world. You are a beautiful soul indeed xxxx

  2. That bear, top right, is smiling! I like bears and eagles. I'm glad these bears are cared for rather than euthanised.

    1. He is smiling isn't he? The two in that area are brothers and they are much more responsive to voices than the 3 in the other area. I so glad they are loved so much and are still with us too

  3. I find the eyes of owls hypnotizing.

    1. And that snowy owl was just the most beautiful bird too.

  4. This is such a wonderful post and thank you so much for sharing your adventures and Oh! that snowy owl...how absolutely beautiful. Raptors too! All beautiful creatures.
    I think the bears know they are loved and better to be cared for in this way than perhaps perish in the wild or have to be put down.

    1. It truly was amazing to see the bears up close and personal and to know they are so cared for. I think the thing I found confronting was the concrete walls, but better that than death. Glad you are enjoying my adventures. xxxx



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