Pack Creek Bears & The Legend of Stan Price

Pack Creek Bears & The Legend of Stan Price

 

To order book - $10 plus $4 shipping and handling (check or money order) from Friends of Admiralty Island, P.O. Box 20791, Juneau, Alaska 99802 or e-mail requests to admiralty_friends@yahoo.com and send check or money order upon receipt of book.  It is also available through selected retail outlets in Alaska.

 

In 1929 Stan and Edna Price began a life in the Alaska wilderness that cannot be replicated in today’s busy and more populated world. The booklet describes Stan’s longstanding relationship with wild Admiralty Island Alaska brown bears (coastal grizzlies).  It explains how his experiences with these magnificent animals have resulted in Pack Creek becoming one of the world’s premier public brown bear viewing areas.  Stan passed away in 1989, but his gentle nature and love of all things wild is embodied in a core population of bears that go about their daily living tolerating the near presence of humans.

Edna wrote in her journal, “Brown bear are no menace to us . . . One of our friends says we are going to trust one too many.  He is mistaken.  We don’t trust any bears, at all.  But we have been in their home territory so long we have become well acquainted with them and thus have learned to get along with them peaceably.”

Pack Creek

 

Edna also relates how one surviving cub became the beginning of a growing number of sows to teach their cubs to tolerate humans in Pack creek, “And then there was Susie Bear.  She was orphaned when her mother and another bear fought to the death.  She stayed near them for a while then uncertainly wandered over this way.” 

Susie kept bringing her cubs to Pack Creek.  The cubs kept returning as well, learning from their mother the habit of accepting the strange creatures that lived next to the salmon stream. 

Stan Price

 

After Stan passed away in 1989 Joel Bennett, who had become Stan’s close friend raised a plaque at the homesite in memory of Stan.  Joel recounted, “A beautiful bear was lying nearby and it wouldn’t leave. We waited, but finally we all just walked up to the rock to install the plaque.  The bear still wouldn’t leave.  We all felt he was more than a sentry.”  Later that summer, up on the caved-in roof of Stan’s cabin, Joel saw two bears lying there like guardians.  “It was obviously something stronger than two bears looking for a place to rest.”  Stan’s spirit is alive and well. 

The remains of Stan’s float house, sheds, and boat have succumbed to the wet climate and winter snows.  Soon most signs of his habitation will disappear, but Stan’s legacy the tolerant bears of Pack Creek will remain.

Susie

 

Pack Creek is one of just a handful of sites on the planet where wild bears go freely about their lives within the presence of humans, allowing thousands of visitors the opportunity to photograph and view bears at close range. 

The key to managing Pack Creek is to have a comprehensive understanding of bear behavior and how they depend, use and travel through the types of vegetation, terrain, and food sources. To then encourage human use into this maze of interrelationships complicates the balancing act of protecting both visitors and bears. This publication explores bear biology, bear movements and interactions with humans.

The U. S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game co-manage the visitor use at Pack Creek.  Limited visiting permits are required during the peak summer viewing season and visitor are restricted to specific travel areas.

To have viewable bears at Pack Creek for future generations will require that management decisions always consider the bear’s well-being first and foremost.

Pack Creek Ranger at Pack Creek
Pack Creek Estuary, aerial view

Pack Creek Estuary - Aerial View