Grizzly bears are the largest predators in North America by quite a large margin. As such, it’s only fitting that the largest state in the United States has the largest number of them! Grizzlies or brown bears as they are often called, are amazing foragers and predators that live all over the Frontier State. Within the borders of Alaska, however, is an island with quite a reputation. Today, let’s discover the most grizzly bear-infested island on earth!
What is the most grizzly bear infested island on earth?
Admiralty Island is known as the most bear-infested island on earth because it has the highest density of brown bears globally.
Seeing bears in Alaska isn’t all that uncommon, but seeing them on Admiralty Island is almost a guarantee! Admiralty Island is located in the southeastern portion of the state and is an island within the Alexander Archipelago. Only a few miles to the south of Juneau, Admiralty Island is known as an “ABC Island,” including Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof.
The island is about 1,646 square miles and has around 1,600 brown bears. With a population density of 1 bear per mile, Admiralty Island has the highest density of grizzlies anywhere in the world.
Why are there so many bears on the island?
Although the island is relatively large (the seventh-largest in the United States and 132nd in the world), it has an equally high amount of bears. Since bears are so big, how are they able to survive?
Although there isn’t an official answer as to how there are so many bears on the island, we can assume a few things. First, it’s important to note that Admiralty Island is covered in massive areas of old-growth temperate rainforests. The forests are the prime habitat for many animals, including brown bears, bald eagles, and even Sitka deer. With pristine forests and waters choc-full of salmon each year, the grizzly bears have less competition with one another than they would in a less resource-rich area.
How did bears get to the island?
Although it isn’t well-known, bears are great swimmers! As such, they are regularly documented swimming between islands in search of new places to eat. Since Admiralty Island is so close to other islands, including the Juneau and the mainland only a few miles away, it seems possible that bears simply swam there.
Once a few bears made it to the island, it was only a matter of time before they began reproducing.
Is it safe for humans on the island?
Despite having a density of 1 bear per mile, there is actually a human presence on the island. The traditional community of Angoon is the home of around 500 Kootznoowoo Tlingit people. With current populations, native Tlingit people are outnumbered by a factor of three by bears.
With so many bears around, many people wonder how safe things are. For a native Alaskan, however, bears aren’t something to fret over but a part of life. You take precautions when you can, but otherwise, you live your life! In fact, the Cross Admiralty Canoe Route is a common path taken through the island. The path follows a series of lakes, streams, and trails, with cabins and shelters dotted along the way.
Interesting facts about Admiralty Island
Aside from having the highest density of bears in the world, Admiralty Island also has one of the highest densities of bald eagles in the world. Even more, Admiralty Island has more brown bears than the entire lower 48 states combined.
Admiralty Island used to be a whaling and fur-trading post. Russians often came to trade with the locals, eventually hiring them out to whale on their behalf. Later on, Americans would take over the region. Unfortunately, a military convoy in the late 1800s would end up bombing the local population after killing one of their shamans and refusing to compensate them for it.
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