Tom Griffin, manager of McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge in Alaska, will give a slideshow presentation on the brown bears of McNeil River at the Avon Public Library Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
The McNeil Sanctuary hosts the world's largest congregation of wild brown bears. Often, 20 bears will feed together at McNeil River Falls, and up to 72 have congregated at the falls at one time. Griffin, who has worked at McNeil for 12 seasons, has both photographs and experiences to share. He will discuss bear behavior and safety, and provide an overview of the natural history of the McNeil River area. He will also describe the visitor experience for those lucky enough to gain access to the sanctuary.
"I have been one of those lucky ones," said longtime local Norma Broten, who has had the opportunity to visit McNeil seven times. "It is a thrill and a gift to be where bears are --to watch them eat salmon, nurse their cubs, take a nap on the rocks, and play with each other. McNeil is a truly wonderful place."
McNeil is a roadless area with no modern amenities; it is virtually undisturbed by human development. Access to the sanctuary is allowed only by permits, which are distributed via a lottery system.