High water in Brooks River prompts partial closure in Katmai so bears can fish

A bear eats a salmon that's jumpiong up some falls
A bear at Brooks Falls. August 2019. (Izzy Ross/KDLG)

Katmai National Park and Preserve temporarily closed a portion of Brooks River this week to allow the brown bears more access to the fishing grounds.

In a news release, Park Superintendent Mark Sturm said the water levels in the Brooks River have been unusually high this year, and the bears have a harder time fishing in deep waters. The closure will give bears unhindered access to shallower waters.

The area is typically open to anglers, photographers and tourists. Bears are most successful at fishing without the interference or presence of humans, so leaving the river open to people could dissuade bears from fishing there.

The closure went into effect Tuesday afternoon and ends at 3 p.m. Friday, though park officials may extend it. Park staff will also use the time as an opportunity to further study the bears’ eating habits and how the closure affects them.

Sport fishing is still open in other areas of the Brooks River, including above the falls.

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