The Kootznoowoo Wilderness is a temperate rainforest filled with the highest concentration of brown bears in the world. It sits on an island in Southeast Alaska along the Alexander Archipelago just south of Juneau. The island spans nearly 1 million acres and is home to over 1,500 brown bears, more than the total number of brown bears in the lower 48 states combined.
While it is most commonly known as Admiralty Island, a name given to it by the Royal Navy when they discovered it in the late 1800s; the more fitting name was first given to it by the Tlingits, the island's original inhabitants. They named it Xootsnoowú or Kootznoowoo, meaning "Fortress of the Bears."
My dad and I had the opportunity to visit the island last Saturday as I was making my way up to Anchorage for a business trip this past week. After obtaining a permit from the USFS in Juneau, we met up with our guide, Clay and set off on a seaplane to explore a unique location on the island known as Pack Creek. In this part of the island, it is possible to observe the bears in their natural habitat as they have grown comfortable with the presence of humans due to habituation efforts in recent years. Once we arrived, we were joined by Jane, a Park Ranger with Tongass National Forest.