Katmai National Park’s awe-inspiring natural powers confront us most visibly in its brown bears. In summer, North America’s largest land predators gather along streams to feast on salmon runs, building weight from this wealth of protein and fat, preparing for the long winter ahead. Alaska’s brown bears and grizzlies are now considered one species. People commonly consider grizzlies to be those that live 100 miles and more inland. Browns are bigger than grizzlies thanks to their rich diet of fish. Kodiak brown bears are a different subspecies that is geographically isolated on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Mature male bears in Katmai may weigh up to 900 pounds. Mating occurs from May to mid-July, with the cubs born in dens in mid-winter. Up to four cubs may be born, at a mere pound each. Cubs stay with the mother for two years, during which time she does not reproduce. The interval between litters is usually at least three years. Brown bears dig a new den each year, entering it in November and emerging in April. About half of their lifetimes is spent in their dens. Because each bear is an individual, no one can predict exactly how a given bear will act in a given situation. These awe-inspiring bears symbolize the wildness of Katmai today.
Besides brown bear, Katmai National Park provides a protected home to moose, caribou, red fox, wolf, lynx, wolverine, river otter, mink, marten, weasel, porcupine, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and beaver. Marine mammals include; sea lions, sea otters, and hair seals. Beluga, killer, and gray whales can also be seen along the coast of the park.