McNeil River bear-viewing applications available

Posted: Sunday, February 09, 2003

Applications to view wild brown bears at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary are available until March 1 through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The sanctuary is 250 miles southwest of Anchorage and 100 air miles west of Homer and borders Katmai National Park. The roadless sanctuary protects about 200 square miles of wildlife habitat.

Visitors always see bears feeding at McNeil River Falls. Salmon leaping into bears' mouths, mothers teaching their cubs to fish and bears jostling for prime fishing spots are among the dramatic photographs and videos made at the site.

Red fox, arctic ground squirrels, harbor seals and bald eagles also are commonly observed. Other wildlife includes moose, caribou, wolves, wolverine, waterfowl, sea ducks and sea birds.

Ten people per day are allowed access to the sanctuary and viewing area at McNeil River Falls between June 7 and Aug. 25.

Visitors may camp in the sanctuary for up to four days.

Applications may be submitted online or by mail with a nonrefundable application fee of $25 per person.

Applicants are entered into a lottery and if drawn, residents pay a $150 viewing fee and nonresidents pay $350. Applications and information is at the Fish and Game Web site at Follow the special area links to McNeil River Sanctuary.

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