National Geographic : 1994 Jan
On Television Wild About Bears: Giant Carnivores of Kodiak First comes a spring salad of grasses, roots, and tender cow parsnips. Then an appetizer, some deliciously rotten whale or seal carcasses. As spring ripens to summer, time to go fishing (above) for the main course: stream-fresh, roe-packed salmon. With berries for dessert in the late summer and fall, Kodiak brown bears, subject of a new National Geographic Special, prosper and grow large on their verdant island off the southern coast of Alaska. "Island of the Giant Bears" visits the storm-swept, fog-draped Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which supports the densest concentration of brown bears in the world-one animal per 1.5 square miles. Some 2,700 bears roam the hundred-mile long island, accounting for nearly 10 percent of Alaska's brown bear population. Kodiak brown bears dwarf even their feared cousin, the grizzly. A male Kodiak can rear up ten feet and, at 1,500 pounds, roll along at the government. "That way," says the 26-year-old doctoral student at Harvard, "we preserve the refuge for the bears and with them our cul tural heritage." "Island ofthe Giant Bears," Special on PBS, January12, 8p.m . ET; available as a home video in March. Spinning a Tale of Versatile Weavers ilk is the lifeline of spiders. The softest strands swaddle spiderlings in their egg sac, protected on the outside by the toughest. Mating signals are tapped out over lines of silk. And silk often speeds as high as 35 miles an hour. ensnares the day's meals. In 1971 the Alaska Native Claims Masters of adaptation, spiders Settlement Act gave large portions have evolved diverse uses for their of prime bear habitat to the Alutiiq silken thread-as tool, weapon, people, who have hunted and fished bridge, trap. "Webs of Intrigue" on the island for 7,000 years. They travels down the spiders' Silk Road, now face a dilemma: To be econom- coming face-to-face with, for exam ically self-sufficient, they may have ple, the giant Nephila spider, ten to develop their land, but that inches across, whose enormous web would destroy the bears. can entangle small birds. Kodiak native Sven Haakanson, "Webs of Intrigue" is a January Jr. (above), like many other island- selection of the National Geographic ers, hopes to sell the land back to Video Club. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYS AT9 P.M. ET . NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS. FOR INFORMATIONON NATIONALGEOGRAPHICVIDEOS, CALL1-800 -343-6610, MONDAYTHROUGHFRIDAY,8 A.M. TO 5 P.M . ET, IN THE U. S. ANDCANADAONLY.