Bears vs. salmon: Solving the McNeil River puzzle

Although brown bears kill more than half the chum salmon entering the world-famous McNeil River each year, state fishery biologists and managers don’t believe the bears’ predation is the primary reason for the river’s stubbornly persistent weak salmon runs. Consequently, although the state Board of Fisheries recently designated the McNeil chum fishery a stock of concern, the board also decided against shooing away or killing some of the bears or helping the salmon avoid them — opting instead to allow the chum runs, over time, to recover on their own. McNeil River — named about a century ago for area rancher Charlie McNeil and bounded by McNeil River State Game Refuge and Katmai National Park — drains into the western portion of Kamishak Bay, approximately 100 miles west-southwest of Homer. The entire drainage lies within the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, established in 1967, an exceptional bear-viewing area located near a cascading set of falls that has been drawing wildlife lovers since its creation. Read the story here 09:25