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An Update on “Tundra” From Ranger Mike

As Ranger Roy related to you last night, 130 Tundra was found dead along the Brooks River last week. We waited until yesterday to tell everyone not because we wanted to keep a secret, but because we wanted to be sure we correctly identified the bear.

July 1 was a busy day at Brooks Camp. Late in the evening, while many rangers were still dealing with 402’s yearling cub in a tree at Brooks Lodge, another ranger discovered a dead bear near the cut bank on the Brooks River. The cut bank is located about halfway between Brooks Falls and the lower Brooks River. After looking at the photos of the bear and noticing what appears to be a scar over the bear’s left eye, I suspected that the dead bear might be 130 Tundra. Because this bear has not been observed along the Brooks River in the past week, I am now convinced that she is the bear in the photo. A photo of the dead bear is linked below.

Here’s what we know by examining the bear:

1. 130 likely died within 24 hours of being discovered.

2. She had been fed on by another bear.

3. She was likely killed by another bear.

Here’s what we don’t know:

1. Which bear killed 130.

2. The circumstances that led to her death.

Without witnesses, there is no way to determine the events that led to her death. When I last saw 130 Tundra, she appeared to be a healthy bear. I did not notice anything unusual about her behavior or physical appearance.

National parks like Katmai protect not only nature’s wonders, but also its harsh realities. The return of salmon marks the season of plenty for bears, but life along the river is no game for these animals. Each bear you see on the bearcams is competing with others to survive. 130 apparently encountered a competitor that she couldn’t overcome or avoid. 130 was apparently a healthy young adult bear who, I assumed, would grow into a large mature bear. Assumptions can be and often are wrong, but you can never be wrong about the hard lives that bears lead.

Here’s a link to a photo of 130 on the night she was found.

  • Solo23

    Thank you all for taking the time to provide the info you do. Their behavior and interactions are what interest me most about watching, and I’m thrilled you are willing to share your knowledge with us, even when it is of harsh realities.

  • http://explore.org/ Erin B. Jackson

    Thanks Ranger Mike! I know it is a fact of life but still hard to swallow sometimes. It is amazing more of these interactions don’t occur between bear & bear or bear & human. You guys do a great job so keep it up.

  • HuskyMother

    Thank you for your thoughtful, sensitive sharing of the sad news about Tundra. The rangers’ contributions to the Brooks online community are invaluable, and greatly appreciated.

    Very sad about 130/Tundra. She had a lot of fans who are grieving for her.

    We are all blessed to have this window into the world of the Brooks bears.

  • Fran Bettencourt

    @ OUR RANGERS & EXPLORE I don’t know how to express my of feelings of sympathy for Tundra and her death, it is so sad. I am so sorry for all of us and rangers. Like everyone has expressed, we do appreciate all the caring and communication you do for us and the bears. We have lost a part of our family that we have enjoyed watching the last few years. Thank You for all you do for us.

  • mamagrizz31

    Watching them on cameras makes it easy to forget they are wild animals. Such a sad day finding her. The rangers do a great job there I myself couldn’t do their jobs just because of the people that always have to be told the bears are Wild. Maybe this will make the guys who fish 5 feet away from a bear remember bears are wild and your in a competition for their food and you’re in the home.

  • Sequim Pat

    Approx 10 days ago Tundra was being followed and on the left side of the bridge mated with this male. He continued to pursue her and they went towards the leaning spruce. I think that they went around the river a bit on the left side but I think that they ended up going towards the leaning spruce area in the end. Seemed like on weekend, mid day. Don’t know if UStream has feed but may give more info. Very sad… she seemed like a sweet bear…