McNeil River originates from alpine lakes and glaciers located high in the mountains of the Aleutian Range in Alaska. As it makes its way toward the shores of Lower Cook Inlet, it provides sustenance to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears.
In addition to brown bears, bald eagles, harbor seals, arctic ground squirrels, salmon, and red fox are commonly observed. Sea birds, sea ducks, waterfowl, wolverine, wolves, caribou, and moose may also be observed.
The Alaska State Legislature designated the river area as a wildlife sanctuary about 50 years ago due to the wide array of wildlife. In 1993, the area was enlarged to protect the world’s highest concentration of brown bears.
This means that it’s one of the few places on the planet where visitors can watch wild brown bears nap, nurse cubs, and do anything else that comes naturally.
In fact, human access to the sanctuary is limited — every year just a small number of people are allowed to visit the sanctuary and photograph the bear congregation.
This means that visitors need a permit to see wild brown bears there. Names are drawn through a lottery system, and a lot of people apply without getting drawn. The number of visitors is limited to 13 a day, with 4-day visits allowed between June 7 and August 25.
But, a tech worker at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Sanctuary, Drew Hamilton, had a close encounter with a big brown bear in the sanctuary.
Although the bear appeared out of nowhere, it wasn’t disturbed by Hamilton’s presence in the sanctuary.
While the brown bear was walking to the riverbank, he recorded the pleasant surprise with his camera.
Hamilton was relaxing in his camping chair, when the bear walked right up to him and sat next to him to enjoy the beautiful scenery and nice breeze.
You can watch the video below: