Brown Bear Facts

Kodiak brown bears have called our islands home for the past 12,000 years.

They began inhabiting this area when glacial ice receded enough for food sources sufficient to support bears appeared, but before Kodiak was isolated from the Alaska Peninsula and became a series of islands. The Kodiak Archipelago is the only place in the world this genetically distinct subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) occurs. Currently 3,500 bears reside with us on the Archipelago (which equates to almost one bear per square mile).

The intelligence of a bear falls somewhere between that of an exceptionally smart dog and a primate. As with humans, the intelligence of bears varies by individual. Also like humans, each bear has a unique personality based upon their life experiences and genetic heredity. This, coupled with their status as an “opportunistic omnivore” (eating all types of foods available), makes them capable of elaborate and complex problem solving behaviors. This is exemplified by their many novel methods of obtaining food, particularly the distinct fishing techniques you will see on your visit!

Observing bears in their natural and unspoiled habitat is a life-changing experience. Professional biologists and bear experts come away with a new appreciation and respect for these magnificent animals after visiting the Kodiak Brown Bear Center. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience while observing bears to have one stop and look directly into your eyes; at that moment, you realize that they are just as interested in learning about you as you are about them.

Our bear viewing protocols and behavior are based upon decades of experience working with bears in the wild. Our conduct and actions in the field have been developed from close observation of the cues bears give each other in their interactions. If we are consistent and predictable with our behaviors and respect the bear’s personal space, they in turn will respect ours. While bear viewing we are cognizant at all times that we are guests in the bear’s home, and if we behave respectfully the bears are willing to allow us to return in the future.

Whether you see a single bear or dozens, what sets our viewing program apart is the overall excellence of the experience for you and its passive impact on the bears. Our trained guides will provide you with premier and memorable bear viewing encounters by giving you the opportunity to intimately observe bear behaviors and interactions rarely seen by tourists, because these bears have accepted and grown accustomed to our presence at our viewing locations due to our consistent and respectful approach and meetings along the river.