August 22, 2008

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news57Inuvik is one of the most forgettable places I have been to. It seems the town makes little effort to entice travelers to stay. It is difficult to find decent food, everything is overpriced and (other than a nice visitors centre) there is no interesting landscape. A lot of people take a flight tour from Inuvik to Tuktoyuktuk, but we decided to save our money for more interesting scenery, bought a “I Drove the Dempster” t-shirt and proceeded to make our way back south on the Dempster Highway. The weather for the next few days was quite nice with warmish temperatures and broken clouds. We saw a herd of about 100 Barrenground caribou near the NWT-Yukon border, and a small group of females and babies near the road but nothing that produced good photos. We saw more several grizzly bears, the inland version looking quite a bit different from the coastal Katmai bears. Of the bears we saw there were two sub-adult females, probably sisters. One was particularly bold the other quite shy. The boldest of the two had become quite habituated to people and is destined for trouble. We found her scratching herself on a road sign and when we stopped she marched right up and touched our car as well as jumping up on the RV in front of us. news59Later that morning we came back to the same spot and found them again, this time being fed by two older tourists driving an SUV. These two men were taking big chances getting out of their vehicles to photograph the bears. A ‘bear-jam’ soon followed and several of us tried to reason with these men to get back in their vehicles and quit feeding the bears, but they seemed oblivious. I was not the only one that reported them to the local ranger later than night. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, people are still feeding bears at the side of the road. This is exactly the type of situation that produces negative bear-human encounters, which often end up badly for both parties.

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news56We put the FJ in 4WD and drove up on the shale hills to get off the main highway. ATV tracks were everywhere in these hills, where First Nations people hunt caribou and other game year-round. There had been a First Nations caribou kill on the nearby tundra and a sub-adult male grizzly had laid claim to the remains of the kill. He had buried most of it and was laying on top to lord over his prize and we watched him with amusement. A group of 5 or 6 ravens were tag-teaming the bear trying to get bites of the prized possession and the young bear was swatting at his antagonists. We camped on a dry riverbed that night at Windy Pass and as we sat around the campfire waiting in hopes for some northern lights, a red fox came over to check us out. He circled us with curiousity for about 5 minutes before trotting off down the riverbed.

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