In some parts of Alaska, the sockeye salmon is easily the most important component of a brown bear’s diet, contributing to between 60-80 per cent of its annual nutritional intake. But since the salmon are only ‘running’ for three months of the years, the bears must make the most of the opportunity when it comes along. ‘Carpe diem’, as the phrase goes – or ‘Carpe salmo’, perhaps.
The need to gorge while the going is good means a dominant male can catch up to 30 fish a day at Brook Falls, in Katmai National Park, helping to add up to 180kg of body weight – that’s nearly three average-sized humans – to help see him through his winter hibernation. While this spectacle is taking place on many of Alaska’s rivers, Brook Falls is the acknowledged bear-fishing capital of the world. In the peak season – July and September are the best months – operators say they can see six bears a day, and sometimes as many as 24.