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SENSE OF PLACE

Ranger Jane Pascoe on Pack Creek bear-viewing

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Pack Creek

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T WAS A MOMENT THAT WOULD BE MANY

people’s worst nightmare. A brown bear, trailed by a yearling cub, approached a woman as she sat alone on Admiralty Island in northern southeast Alaska. But for Jane Pascoe, working her second season as a ranger managing the Pack Creek Brown Bear Observatory, it was mesmerizing to watch the bear lie down and begin nursing her cub 20 feet away. The true name of Admiralty Island is Kootznoowoo, which in Lingít, the Tlingit language, means “fortress of the brown bear.” The island, at 100 miles long and with nearly 700 miles of coastline, has an incredible density of brown bears. The Pack Creek Observatory, 35 miles as the eagle flies from Juneau, offers one of the few places people can have a safe window into the lives of wild brown bears. Pascoe and a few other rangers are out in the rain, wind, and occasional sunshine from June 1 to around September 10 helping visitors enjoy a respectful and intimate

BY BJORN DIHLE

viewing experience. Before she first got the chance to work at Pack Creek, Pascoe, a resident of Haines in northern Lynn Canal, had been employed by the Alaska Department of Fish Game for six seasons, mostly surveying salmon in rivers across Southeast. “I was awestruck,” she said of her first experiences at the observatory. “It was amazing people could be there experiencing brown bears and not causing them any stress or changing their behavior. Bears get a lot of bad press. You only ever hear about them when they’ve killed or mauled somebody. The value of Pack Creek is that it provides an opportunity for people to view bears in their natural environment and shows them a set of characteristics of brown bears that they’ve never really understood or seen before. After that first 10-day shift, I knew it was something that I wanted to do.” Pascoe has been a full-time Pack Creek ranger since 2010. She spends much of her summer in a

BJORN DIHLE

Keeping it Wild

Pack Creek ranger Jane Pascoe and her favorite bear “Chino” in July of 2018.

A L A S K A M A G A Z I N E . C O M JULY/AUGUST 2019

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5/10/19 12:58 PM

Profile for Cowboy Publishing Group

Alaska Magazine July 2019  

Alaska Magazine July 2019

Alaska Magazine July 2019  

Alaska Magazine July 2019