VIDEO: Great Big Grizzly Sits Right Next To Photographer
By Chris Muhlenfeld | August 22, 2021
Some things are difficult to imagine: taking a trip into outer space, a journey to the bottom of the sea, looking into the eyes of a gigantic wild grizzly who is within swiping distance. Wildlife photographer Drew Hamilton didn't have to use his imagination for the last one in that list.
He was filming on the McNeil River in the Alaska McNeil River State Game Sanctuary where he had set up his gear next to the water.
As he captured some genuinely epic wildlife footage, a massive grizzly casually strolled into his camp and sat down directly next to him. Drew handled the terrifying situation like a champ and remained calm throughout the entire episode. He expertly turned his camera on the absolute monster of a grizzly and took some stunning, if not unnerving footage of the bear sitting next to him.
Drew wasn't all that surprised by the bear encounter, as McNeil River State Game Sanctuary is teeming with bears. Later in the video, you can see dozens of bears enjoying some incredibly fresh salmon sashimi. Human traffic to the sanctuary is limited, and only a few lucky winners of lottery tickets are allowed entry to the area.
More famous for its bear population than for the size of the river or the strength of its salmon runs, McNeil River has been featured on many television and film documentaries. The area has become so well-known as a bear-viewing area that in 1973, the State of Alaska began limiting the number of summer visitors to ten per day during peak visitor months of June, July, and August. The area has also been "wired" for remote webcam viewing for those unable to access the river in person.
Various groups have formed to support keeping the area pristine and free from bear-hunting activity. And while the bear population often wanders outside the protected zone, their numbers have gradually continued to rise.