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Behind the Cams: Ranger Michael Fitz at the Katmai National Park (Bear Cam)

Go behind the Live #BearCam and meet Ranger Michael Fitz, who works with the brown bears in Katmai National Park in Alaska.
  1. Name and Title: Michael Fitz, Visual Information Specialist/Media Ranger, Acting Brooks District Interpreter
  2. How long have you been working for NPS and how long at Katmai? I started my NPS career as intern for the Student Conservation Association at Badlands National Park in 2001. Early in my career, I was focused on exploring the nation so I moved around to many different national park areas until I arrived at Katmai in 2007. I’ve been working summers at Katmai since then, with the exception of 2012 when I had some infidelity with Yellowstone. I was hired into my current position at Katmai in the spring of 2013.
  3. What drew you to Alaska/Katmai in particular? Since I was a kid, I always wanted to go to Alaska and explore remote landscapes. Katmai was an intriguing destination because of its volcanoes, bears, salmon, and wilderness.
  4. What is your interest in brown bears? Honestly, when I came to Katmai I didn’t fully comprehend how much I would enjoy watching bears and studying them, nor did I know much about bears. I quickly developed a strong interest in learning as much as I could about the animals. Of course, this helped me perform well in my job too, because people visiting Katmai crave information about bears. I also find bears fascinating for their tenacity, perseverance, ecology, and individuality.
  5. What do you like best about the summer/fall season at Brooks Falls? Brooks Camp is an amazing place for many reasons. It provides wonderful bear viewing opportunities and easy access to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which I love to explore. I really enjoy closely watching the ecology of the area unfold. I can expect to see lots of bears and salmon each summer (and I spend most evenings in July watching bears), but there is still a lot to discover through careful observation.
  6. Do you have any scary or amazing stories about the bears? I don’t really have an specific stories, but I’m amazed by the summertime abundance of Katmai, which the bears and salmon symbolize and represent.
  7. Is there anything you’d like the viewers to know? Every bear you see on the #BearCam is different. Bears are very intelligent animals and each bear uses the Brooks River differently. Look for the different fishing techniques that bears use and watch how the bears interact with one another—dominant male bears at Brooks Falls interact with other bears much differently than a young subadult (independent juvenile bear) that is on its own for the first time.
  8. Random fast fact about yourself?  I would be a self-described tree nerd. Katmai doesn’t have many species of trees, so when I travel I almost obsessively seek out different tree species and photograph them, much like birders add birds to their life list.

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