Katmai National Park and Preserve Warnings and Dangers

  • Upper Falls Bears
    Upper Falls Bears
    by MTrav

Most Recent Warnings and Dangers in Katmai National Park and Preserve

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    Whitesocks

    by MTrav Updated Nov 22, 2006

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    Upper Falls Bears

    You are probably expecting something about bears. But the biggest problem we had were the little biting flies called Whitesocks.

    These small flies get their name from white stripes on thier legs.

    In July 2005 the rangers and returning visitors said that this was by far the worst summer ever for these bugs.

    A Whitesock is a stealthy insect that likes to crawl into an opening in your clothing - your collar, a pant leg, the waistband of your pants etc. Once they find a juicy patch of skin, they inject an anesthetic and an anti-coagulant. This may sound like a mosquito bite, but there is a difference. Instead of using a sharp little straw to suck your blood, (like a mosquito) they have what looks to me like a tiny pair of bolt cutters, which are used to cut a small hole in your skin. The anticoagulant they inject causes bite to bleed, so they just drink the blood as it comes out.

    The bites bleed painlessly for half an hour. The blood donor is left with an itchy welt that doesnt heal for 2 or 3 weeks and lots of ruined clothing. Yeah its really disgusting..

    The only solution was to carefully tuck in every bit of clothing, wear a headnet or something equivalent, and use lots of bugspray. DEET works best, but it is toxic, so spray it mostly on your clothes. I noticed a few people had used duct tape on thier pant legs and sleeves.

    My girlfriend and I each had about 30 bites after 3 days.

    There were also mosquitos, but they were totally overshadowed by the Whitesocks!

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    Bears

    by MTrav Updated Feb 25, 2006

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    The bear density in parts of Katmai NP, including Brooks camp, is very high during Salmon runs. The presence of bears and humans in such close proximity is not a natural situation. So there is always the danger of a bad encounter with a bear.

    There are two basic rules at Brooks camp - The bears have the right of way, and people should not be any closer than 150 yards from a bear. Just stay alert and dont get too close. There are also some guidelines for food preparation if you are camping.

    I think the bears were too preoccupied with eating Salmon to be interested in people. However bears are very intelligent and curious, and their individual personality varies greatly from one bear to the next, so it is alway difficult to predict bear behavior.

    All visitors are required to attend a short training session from the park service immediately after arriving. I think a visitor who is alert and uses common sense is quite safe even in this unusual situation.

    As far as I know, there have been two fatalities due to a single bear attack at Katmai NP, which was publicized in the movie Grizzly Man. This took place in the eastern part of the park, and it was an extreme example of not using common sense.

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Katmai National Park and Preserve Warnings and Dangers

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