At home with the bears of Admiralty Island

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

As hibernation season sets in, a bear book might be just the thing to bring into your den. The Friends of Admiralty Island will release their new book, "Pack Creek Bears and the Legacy of Stan Price," just in time for winter.

Learning to live in Southeast Alaskan means learning to live with bears. Few had to learn to live as closely as Stan Price did at his homestead on Pack Creek on Admiralty Island. From 1956 to 1989, he seemed to follow Theodore Roosevelt's advice to "walk softly and carry a big stick," though he rarely needed to use his stick to whack bears on the nose when they got dangerously aggressive.

"Pack Creek Bears" tells the story of Price through the lenses of those who came to know him - family members, wildlife photographers, employees of the Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game, wilderness guides and educators.

"Stan's gift was his ability to inculcate you with appreciation of bears and the value of bears alive, not shot," writes filmmaker Joel Bennett. "His approach wasn't to polarize. He just sort of stood there and smiled as people got it."

Price's ease with the bears inspired others. Bennett got his start as a documentary filmmaker among the bears of Pack Creek. Wildlife photographer John Hyde visited Pack Creek during his first summer in Alaska - and kept coming back.

Retired Admiralty ranger K.J. Metcalf writes, "More than once I walked through Stan's woodshed, which was the only path when the tide was in, and see a large bear asleep in the corner. Stan's reply was, 'Oh, don't worry, she won't bother you. She's one of my regulars.'"

As word got out about Price, more and more people visited him and Pack Creek. Price died in 1989, but his legacy remains in the Stan Price Wildlife Sanctuary, and now in this Friends of Admiralty Island publication.

Gorgeous photos, many from renowned photographers, complement the stories of Price and his unique life among the bears. Since it will be difficult to read the book without getting the urge to visit Pack Creek, information on obtaining permits for a summer visit is included in the back as well.

There will be a book release and public reception for "Pack Creek Bears and the Legacy of Stan Price" on Nov. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nugget Mall Hearthside Books. Members of the Friends of Admiralty Island will show Pack Creek slides and tell stories about Price and the bears of Pack Creek.

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