Twenty years ago these majestic birds were a rarity on the Nahanni River. Known to nest in the Yohin Lake area, a cenote on the eastern edge of Nahanni National Park, these birds have recovered from the brink of extinction in the 1930’s. Hunted extensively in the 1800’s for subsistence and for their distinctive plumage Hudson’s Bay’s records show how their population plummeted in the course of only two decades. After decades of conservation, the population has now grown to close to 50,000 animals. As their population has expanded so too has a paddlers’ chance to interact with them.
In the Mackenzie mountains this awakening of life is still a month away but these first inklings in the south tell me it won’t be long until all the wild lands of Canada erupts into life. To see an ecosystem come alive with the strengthening sun is a profound experience. Contemplating the continuity of life while sitting back and admiring the river banks blushing with willowherb puts the rush of life in perspective.
Interactions with bears are a proper concern when some is considering a journey into our backcountry. Knowing what situations might arise, how to deal with them and prevent a negative outcome is worth putting some thought into. Nahanni Wild has been working and traveling through wilderness for decades and we are happy to share some of the theory and techniques that we employ on our expeditions