National Geographic : 1984 Jan
meadows watching us, then ambled off after an interval decent enough to maintain their pride. John says he figures the island has a brownie for every square mile, making it one of the most heavily populated brown bear habitats in the world. The intrusion of man with his chain saws and logging roads will frighten off some bears, John says. Intruders will almost cer tainly hunt and kill others. And where the forest is cut away, dense second growth eventually makes forage impossible for deer. Unfortunately, the best timber lies along the drainages. "They're going to cut the heart out of the forest," predicts John. On the Chilkat River, north of Haines, I found a more promising development in Southeast's continuing logger-wildlife struggle. Each fall more than 3,000 bald eagles from Alaska and western Canada descend on a short stretch of the Chilkat to feast on the river's unusually late salmon run (pages 68-9). It is the largest known gathering of bald eagles anywhere, a spec tacle that draws an audience from around the world. (Continuedon page 70) WILLIAM THOMPSON(LEFT); DAN DRY The pace of life is not terribly brisk in Elfin Cove, population about30, where kerosene lights the lamp of learningfor Mara Place (left). Marapractices spellingwith the aid of a computer game while a neighborwatches. Snugged into a tip of ChichagofIsland, Elfin Cove has one telephone, one store open year round, and a mailplane that arrives, weatherpermitting, once a week in winter. "If we get hungry for fresh produce," says Mara'smother, "we call up the supermarket in Juneauand have it sent out on the mail plane." But Southeast Alaskans have learned to live with isolation, often in dwellings setfar apartfrom others, such as this house (above) on Kupreanof Island across Wrangell Narrowsfrom Petersburg.