I used to live in Southern California’s Ventura County (Thousand Oaks), so this first-person story in the Ventura County Star was of interest to me.
Here’s an excerpt from Chuck Graham’s report:
For 10 days we hadn’t seen a soul, no signs of man’s imprint, and then on the coastal plain the region’s greatest threat loomed not far to the west. Fortunately my attention was easily diverted by an arctic ground squirrel darting between my tripod and its den. Tundra swans, a sandhill crane and a red phalarope waded and waddled across the tundra and cobalt blue ponds. An arctic fox scurried along the banks of the Staines River. We also came across a downtrodden 1930s cemetery, a Russian family buried on a mound, the animals having dug up one of the graves, a femur protruding out of the frigid earth.
Also located on the coastal plain just east of the mouth of the Staines River is Bird Camp. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service keeps a biologist on the coastal plain to monitor the bird nesting season from late May through late July each year. That camp is surrounded by electrical fence to keep the bears at bay. We also learned what had been feeding on that caribou carcass three miles up the river.
“You just missed a polar bear by four days,” said Scott, the scruffy-bearded biologist. “It wandered upriver smelling that carcass from the coast.”
The next day I walked for about 20 miles hoping to spot a polar bear. Once across the uneven tundra, I escaped out to a long, narrow barrier island, a graveyard of bleached driftwood, skeletons and animal tracks. The sandy isle was a good food source for scavenging animals, and then I found polar bear tracks.