It seems almost silly to be writing about my first trip to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary because we didn’t actually get to see any Grizzly Bears. It was still quite an experience! Khutzeymateen (koots-ma-teen) is a native Tsimshian word meaning “a confined space for salmon and bears”.
This sanctuary is accessible via boat or float place only and is located about 50 km north east of Prince Rupert. It took us about two hours by boat but with the sun shining and bald eagles soaring and fishing along the way, the time went by quickly.
Cam had paddled through here with a friend more than 10 years ago and really enjoyed pointing out beaches he camped on and the spot where he and his friend were marooned for days during terrible weather. He was able to tell us about a geologically recent active volcano here in BC as we drove by the entrance to Crow Lagoon.
The Khutzeymateen is an absolutely stunning spot to be in. Normally this is the time of year that the Grizzly Bears come down to the water’s edge to feed on sedge grasses and beach graze. With the low snow pack in the mountains right now they are probably up there taking advantage of the exposed vegetation. The ranger only saw a couple Grizzlies the morning we were there.
The ranger was telling us about how the years can really vary from each other. A couple years ago there were no fish to feed on and the female Grizzlies aborted their cubs in order to concentrate on their own survival. Life isn’t always easy.
We really enjoyed visiting the floating ranger’s station and not just because we smelled their lunch with sautéing onions. We got quite a bit of information, looked at pictures showing the marked differences between Black and Grizzly bears and we also got to handle a number of skulls. Clockwise from top left: Wolf, ?, Grizzly Bear, Fisher. I should have snapped a shot of them together for size comparison. The Grizzly Bear skull was positively frightening in size.
We had time to wave to Jenny in Alaska on our way home.
The journey from here got quite rough. After leaving the inlet that heads into the Khutzmateen the water got very choppy and we were faced with one to two metre seas. I held onto my seat for dear life while we rocked up and down and waves splashed each side of the boat. Needless to say, I put my camera in it’s case for the rest of the trip home.
I look forward to going back and I especially look forward to seeing the bears lounging on the grassy beaches.