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Protect the Chilkat Watershed from Mine Tailings!

April 23rd, 2024

Brown bear tracks in the sand along the Chilkat River

Brown Bear Tracks on the Chilkat River
Shannon Donahue photo

Protect the Chilkat Watershed from Mine Tailings

The Chilkat Watershed is home to Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, which supports all 5 species of wild Pacific salmon, black and brown (coastal grizzly) bears, the world’s largest seasonal population of bald eagles, and the communities of Klukwan and Haines.

Constantine/American Pacific Mining and its partner, DOWA, are developing land on the Klehini River just upstream of the Eagle Preserve and the Chilkat Tlingit Village of Klukwan, to evaluate it for storing toxic mine tailings for the proposed Palmer Mine. This will include 6.6 miles of new roads and associated deforestation, 33 new drill pads, and seismic surveys involving blasting about 500 pounds of dynamite in sensitive wildlife habitat.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) only gave us two weeks to evaluate over 300 pages of technical permit documents, so time is of the essence! We’ve made it easy for you to submit comments to ADNR asking them to reject the 5-year Plan of Operations and Application for Permits to Mine in Alaska, APMA J20245690.

Click here to take action before 5pm Alaska Time, April 24!

Or, click here to download the permit documents and write your own comments.

Take Action to Protect Alaska’s Chilkat River from Mining Impacts

April 18th, 2023

Brown bear tracks in the sand along the Chilkat River

Brown Bear Tracks on the Chilkat River
Shannon Donahue photo

Today, American Rivers named Southeast Alaska’s Chilkat-Klehini river system the 8th most endangered river in the United States, due to the proposed Palmer Mine, a copper-zinc mine at the headwaters of the Chilkat Watershed. The Chilkat Watershed sustains Southeast Alaska’s strongest wild Pacific salmon runs, and brown (coastal grizzly) and black bears, people, and the entire ecosystem depend on those salmon and the clean, unpolluted water that sustain them.

We’ve partnered with American Rivers and Alaska Clean Water Advocacy to raise this issue to national attention, and you can help with that.

We’ve made it easy for you to write to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Representative Mary Peltola to ask Congress to direct the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to intervene and ensure that the Clean Water Act is being properly administered in the Chilkat Watershed. It just takes a moment, and you can start with the action below. Then, share it with your friends through social media, email, text message, or however you like to communicate. Ask them to take action to protect one of the most biologically diverse watersheds in Alaska.

Join Us on a Polar Bear Ecology Field Course on Hudson Bay!

February 14th, 2023

A polar bear standing on snowy tundra, illuminated by sunlight.

Photo by Frank Tyro

Have you always wanted to see a polar bear in its natural habitat (from a safe distance)? Or see beluga whales with their newborn calves? Experience an arctic ecosystem with knowledgeable guides? Then consider joining the Great Bear Foundation for a field course in Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay this year!

The Great Bear Foundation offers low-impact, small group field courses on Hudson Bay that prioritize the safety and well-being of the wildlife we observe. As a conservation organization, we offer a high quality educational experience on our trips, coupled with good humor and a fun atmosphere, even as we tackle serious topics such as climate change and the impacts of tourism on wildlife and habitat.

This year, we’re offering two options: a summer field course that coincides with the beluga whales’ calving season in the Churchill River Estuary, and a fall polar bear ecology field course, timed for the peak polar bear migration, just as the ice begins to form on Hudson Bay, when we have the best opportunity to see polar bears.

Both courses offer the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, but the summer trip prioritizes beluga whales, and the fall trip prioritizes polar bears. In recent years, our groups have seen plenty of polar bears on the summer trip, but if polar bears are your primary interest, opt for the fall trip. Belugas will be gone by the time the sea ice is forming in late October and early November, so if it’s whales that you’re after, sign up for our summer trip. Other species we’ve seen on these trips include red and arctic fox, snowshoe and arctic hares, occasional wolves and caribou, and myriad bird species including gyrfalcon, peregrine falcon, snowy owl (more common in fall), bald eagles (more common in summer), and more! Summer on Hudson’s Bay is a birder’s paradise.

Click here for more information on this year’s field courses!

Check out these highlights from our 2022 trips!

Summer 2022 Highlights

Fall 2022 Highlights

Happy Holidays from the Great Bear Foundation!

December 21st, 2022

A polar bear looks up and to the left, stretching its neck, against a background of willows and snow. Text reads Happy Holidays from the Great Bear Foundation. Thank you for your support!

Happy Holidays

Thank you for supporting bear conservation. 

As we embrace the return of the light in the northern hemisphere, we thank you for your support of our work to protect bears and their habitats, and foster coexistence between people and our ursine neighbors.

The Great Bear Foundation is a member-supported grassroots organization. Whether you volunteered, donated, boosted our social media, or lent moral support, we could not achieve our goals without your help. Thank you.

Highlights of 2022
We’d love to share some highlights of the work you helped to support this year.

Return of our Arctic Ecology Field Courses
We were thrilled to return to Churchill on Hudson Bay for our polar bear and beluga whale field courses after two years of pandemic cancellations! We experienced unusually warm weather in both summer and fall, with ice forming in the bay alarmingly late. However, we were fortunate to experience incredible wildlife viewing, including polar bears, beluga whales, red and arctic fox, arctic hare, snowy owls, ptarmigan, and a very grouchy-looking ice-encrusted muskrat. The aurora borealis graces us with spectacular shows, and our groups were thoughtful, engaged, and a lot of fun. Check out video highlights from our summer and fall trips, thanks to GBF board president and field course instructor, Frank Tyro.
Stay tuned for 2023 trip dates!

Bear Smart Missoula
Great Bear Foundation is a member of the Missoula Bear Smart Working Group. Our goal is to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that must be killed or relocated each year. The working group is calling for expanding the existing bear buffer zone around Missoula and has completed a hazard assessment and management plan for Missoula. On October 3rd, the city and county voted unanimously to pass the Bear Smart resolution. Click here for more information on Bear Smart Missoula efforts.

Spring Bear Fairs and Bear Honoring
GBF and Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group co-hosted a spring fair celebrating bears with representation from FWP, Bear Smart Missoula, and Be Bear Aware. Attendees learned about securing bear attractants, their local watershed, bear spray demonstrations, and went for a hike identifying bear signs and foods.

In Alaska, we collaborated with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Takshanuk Watershed Council, and Wind River Bear Institute on a Community Outreach Day in Haines, complete with bear spray and electric fence demonstrations, working Karelian bear dogs that are trained to prevent and mitigate human-bear conflict, and a hands-on education station with bear hides and outreach materials. Thanks to Alaska Conservation Foundation for funding the event!

Summer Outreach with Missoula City Parks & Rec Camps

Missoula staff was busy all summer long with nature walks, GBF’s bear ecology and safety curriculum, and backcountry camping tips, in partnership with Missoula City Parks & Recreation day camps. Thanks to all who took part, and to Missoula Parks & Rec for partnering on these fun programs!

Bears and Apples Update
Wild bear foods produced poor crops this year due to an unusually cool and wet spring in the Missoula area, pushing bears to look to town for unsecured attractants. GBF, our trusty volunteers, and the Great Bear Apple Drive removed 5,161 lbs of fruit from the community. We attended a half dozen outreach events, reaching over 550 people over the season. We taught residents about what bears need to survive, how to secure attractants to keep bears and people safe, pressed cider, and engaged in discussions about the larger picture of creating a bear aware community. Thanks to Vital Ground Foundation, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Western Cider for support and partnership! Many thanks to all the volunteers, donors, and local residents who made this program a success.

Travel with us to see polar bears on Hudson Bay!

August 8th, 2022

Polar Bear By Frank Tyro

Polar Bear Silhouette by Frank Tyro

Join the Great Bear Foundation for a Polar Bear Field Course this Fall!

The Great Bear Foundation has offered ecologically-sensitive, low impact polar bear ecology field courses since 1983. A few spaces have just opened up on our long-sold-out Polar Bear Ecology Field Course on Hudson Bay this October! Join us from October 23-31 for Intro to Polar Bear Ecology, an experiential field course in one of the world’s southernmost polar bear habitats, witnessing the fall polar bear migration to Cape Churchill. The course includes overland train travel from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba, spending two nights on the train each way, and five days/four nights in the Churchill area, with accommodations at a research facility in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area.

Click here for more information.

Our field courses are suitable for people of all backgrounds. We’ll spend our days exploring tundra, taiga, and the Hudson Bay shoreline, prioritizing wildlife-viewing, and evenings back at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre with slideshows, educational programming, and–if we’re lucky enough to have clear skies–watching the aurora borealis. We will also visit historic and cultural sites, local landmarks, and the amazing Itsanitaq Museum.

As a nonprofit bear conservation organization, we prioritize the wellbeing of wildlife and habitat. We strive to offer wildlife-viewing opportunities that have as little impact on the animals and their habitat as possible. This means we take care not to alter an animal’s behavior, cause it stress, or put it in a risky situation. You can be confident that when you travel with the Great Bear Foundation, you are traveling with experienced instructors who will keep both the animals’ safety, and yours, our top priority.

Check out these video highlights from our 2019 field courses!

Churchill Fall Highlights2 from Frank H. Tyro on Vimeo.

Donate on Giving Tuesday and Get a Pat Race Bear Calendar

November 29th, 2020

A Calendar With Bears On It by Pat Race

2021 Calendar With Bears On It by Pat Race

Now through December 5th, donate $50 or more, and we’ll send you A Calendar With Bears On It by Juneau illustrator, Pat Race of Alaska Robotics as a thank you gift!

Just click here to make a tax deductible donation of $50 or more, and we’ll send you this whimsical 2021 calendar!

Be sure to check out Pat’s online store, Alaska Robotics, for your holiday shopping! Support the artists who support us!

Check out some sample images from Pat’s Calendar With Bears On It.

Sample image of a salmon bear from A Calendar With Bears On It By Pat Race

Sample image from A Calendar With Bears On It By Pat Race

Sample image of black bear towering over Juneau from 2021 Calendar With Bears On It By Pat Race

Sample image from A Calendar With Bears On It By Pat Race

See our Archives for all past news.

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