Brown bears are fattening up for winter hibernation in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. And starting today, thousands of viewers from around the world will tune in for Fat Bear Week to watch the bears gobble fish from the Brooks River, estimate how well they’re packing on the pounds, and then vote for the portliest in a single elimination bracket.
But just how fat are those fat bears? A winner will be crowned Oct. 5, but webcam viewers — almost 650,000 cast votes last year — and actual visitors — 15,000 came to Brooks Falls to see the bears in 2019 — are just guesstimating. But there’s hope for achieving greater accuracy: GIS specialist Joel Cusick is pioneering a new technique for calculating the bears’ weight that has broader implications for noninvasive wildlife research.
The idea came to Cusick, who works for the National Park Service in Alaska, in 2018, while he was working on mapping and surveying at Katmai. A terrestrial lidar scanner, which uses lasers to determine distance and other measurements, was on hand to measure buildings. That’s the device traditional civil engineers use, but when Cusick wandered down to Brooks Falls and stood on a viewing platform 300 feet away from the bears, inspiration hit. He thought: Why not use the scanner to measure a bear’s surface volume instead?
“I got a laser return from the butt of Otis, one of the more famous brown bears up there,” Cusick said. “I thought, ‘Wow, this just might work.’”
Lidar, which stands for “light detection and ranging,” emits beams of light to measure three-dimensional objects or areas. When light waves hit an object, they bounce off and return to the sensor. Computers then use the speed of light to calculate the distance between the sensor and all the points. That figure is then processed using software that can model a three-dimensional object. Scanners have become standard technology that is deployed from the ground, the sky and satellites to measure vegetation growth. Now, they’re being used to measure bears’ length, height and girth.
How can a remote place like Matanuska-Susitna, Alaska gain the attention of the rest of the world? Why, it need merely elect a school board and turn the bozos loose to make micromanaging curriculum decisions. NBC News.
An Alaska school board removed five famous â€” but allegedly “controversial” â€” books from district classrooms, inadvertently spurring renewed local interest in the excluded works.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison were all taken off an approved list of works that teachers in the Mat-Su Borough School District may use for instruction.
The school board voted 5-2 on Wednesday to yank those works out of teachers’ hands starting this fall. The removed books contained content that could potentially harm students, school board vice president Jim Hart told NBC News on Tuesday.
“If I were to read these in a corporate environment, in an office environment, I would be dragged into EO,” an equal opportunity complaint proceeding, Hart said. “The question is why this is acceptable in one environment and not another.”
“Caged Bird” was derided for “‘anti-white’ messaging,” “Gatsby” and “Things” are loaded with “sexual references,” “Invisible” has bad language and “Catch” contains violence, according to the school district.
Dianne K. Shibe, president of the Mat-Su Education Association teachers union, said parents and her members were stunned by the board action.
Even though the school board had listed an agenda item to discuss “controversial book descriptions,” Shibe said no one believed those works were under serious threat.
This photo was found under his bunk after his passing and the speculation is that it was simply one of his pranks.
Living in the same type of wild country, just across the Shelikov straights from Kodiak, I considered posing a similar scene with one of the old bear skulls we have found and a human skull we found at a WWII airplane wreck.
Quick action from a Hoonah boy saved a fishing party from a charging brown bear on June 18, the Empire has learned through Alaska State Troopers and family members. …
When the attack occurred, Elliot Clark, then 11 years old, was walking through the woods near Game Creek in Port Frederick several miles south of Hoonah. The young outdoorsman was heading to a nearby fishing hole with his uncle, Craig Stoltzfus, Stoltzfusâ€™ father, a cousin and three dogs.
Stoltzfus and Elliot Clark were armed when a brown bear came out of the woods, charging the group head on. The other members of the party were not armed.
Lucas Clark, Elliotâ€™s father and himself a bear hunting guide, told the story in a Tuesday phone interview with the Empire. Elliot Clark declined to be interviewed at this time. …
â€œThere was four of them in a line â€¦ my son was third,â€ Clark said. â€œThe bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didnâ€™t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.â€
The bear ran through the first two men, who were pushed to the side of the trail, leaving Elliot Clark in front of his unarmed cousin. The boy raised his pump action shotgun and shot the sow, hitting it with birdshot, which is often used just to scare bears off, Lucas Clark said.
â€œHis first shot was a light load of birdshot. That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck,â€ Lucas Clark said.
The third shot went into the bearâ€™s shoulder and his back, dropping it to the ground. The bear was so close when Elliot hit it with his third shot, there were powder burns on the bearâ€™s mouth. Still alive, the bear then slid by Elliotâ€™s feet.
â€œAs the bear slid past him and came to a stop, he put a kill shot it him,â€ Lucas Clark said.
Stoltzfus finished it off with another round.
The moment could have turned out differently. Lucas Clark hadnâ€™t gotten around to putting a sling on his sonâ€™s shotgun, leaving the 11-year-old to carry it in his hands. He credits this and a lot of shooting practice with preparing Elliot for the moment.
â€œHe was carrying it in his hands rather than on his shoulder. That was the problem with the other ones, when the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder and the bear was very close, so he couldnâ€™t get it off in time,â€ Lucas Clark said.
Fox News reports that a Grizzly Bear taken last Fall near Fairbanks by a fellow out hunting moose has broken the Boone & Crockett record.
Larry Fitzgerald and a pal were moose hunting near Fairbanks, Alaska, when they came across fresh bear tracks in the snow. Three hours later, the auto body man had taken down the grizzly that left the prints, an enormous bruin that stood nearly 9 feet tall and earned Fitzgerald a place in the record books.
Although Fitzgerald shot the bear last September, Boone and Crockett, which certifies hunting records, has only now determined the grizzly, with a skull measuring 27 and 6/16ths inches, is the biggest ever taken down by a hunter, and the second largest grizzly ever documented. Only a grizzly skull found by an Alaska taxidermist in 1976 was bigger than that of the bear Fitzgerald bagged.
I’m not really a trophy hunter, or anything,” Fitzgerald, 35, told FoxNews.com. “But I guess it is kind of cool.”
Fitzgerald brought down the bear from 20 yards, with one shot to the neck from his Sako 300 rifle. He said he and hunting buddy Justin Powell knew from the tracks he was on the trail of a massive grizzly, but only learned this week that he held a world record. …
Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements, and Missouloa, Mont.-based Boone and Crockett trophy data is generally recognized as the standard. Conservationists use the data to monitor habitat, sustainable harvest objectives and adherence to fair-chase hunting rules.