We spent a lot of our time visiting the Chilkoot River in Haines. This beautiful river is where the salmon run, and where we found the Chilkoot bears, as well as eagles, seagulls and others vying for the nutrient-rich fish.
The rain was beginning to catch up with us and we had a couple of pretty dreary, rainy days, but most days we made at least one visit looking for the bears. No luck the first couple of times, but we finally spotted a sow and her cubs at the mouth of the Chilkoot River where it then dumps into the Lukat Inlet.
Grizzly bear cubs have an adorable feature, they have white fur around their necks. Since they are born early in the year, during the sow’s hibernation, the white fur is almost gone on one of the cubs, but the other still has an almost complete white collar.
We watched the sow and cubs fishing along the beach. Then we saw another bear on the other side of the river mouth, also feeding. The other bear was working his (we assumed he was a male) way towards the beach where the sow and cubs were.
Males take over the best feeding areas, and sows move along to the next best areas, in this case closer to the humans. Male bears will also sometimes prey on bear cubs, so the sows do not want their cubs near the males.
We found the sow and cubs feeding on a beach by a neighborhood that is located between the river and the inlet. There were a lot of people around and after she fished for a while, the sow looked like she wanted to move back to her original spot.
One day we went kayaking on Chikoot Lake. It was another cloudy day and the water got a bit choppy in the middle of the lake, but it was a nice paddle and we saw several waterfalls and a cute kingfisher alongside the lake.
We found the sow and cubs once again in the river and got a pretty close view of her and the cubs fishing in the river. Grizzly bear cubs have a low survival rate. We heard that this sow has lost several in the past. It is especially tough when they are so close to humans.
We also found a group of Mergansers that always seemed to hang out in the same spot on the river. These ducks were able to paddle swiftly across, down and up the moving water. They were quite fun to watch as well.
And, of course, we watched some of the eagles alongside the river, some in the trees, some standing on rocks or tree trunks in the water. They are opportunistic and will only go after the easiest prey possible.