Ep. 44 Show Notes | Grizzly Bears & Salmon Runs: Protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay with Drew Hamilton

This week I’m bringing you a special episode. National Salmon Day is Friday, October 8th, and while this day was created to celebrate cooking up the super tasty fish, I view it as the perfect opportunity to talk about Alaska’s world-famous salmon runs, the fat grizzly bears that gorge upon the fish, and the looming threat that, if approved, would collapse this spectacular phenomenon.

Today I’m speaking with Drew Hamilton, professional bear guide and wildlife photographer. Drew has led bear tours in the Alaskan wilderness for two decades. Trust me, if experiencing an on-foot bear expedition is on your bucket list, you want to go with this man. Few people understand grizzlies’ – and other potentially dangerous wildlife – behavior better than Drew. And so when the proposed Pebble Mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay was fast-tracked, Drew jumped into action and became a leading voice against the project. Bristol Bay hosts one of the largest salmon runs left on the planet and destroying these salmon stocks would cause complete ecological and economic collapse.

Drew sat down with me while moving across North America to Churchill, Canada to lead polar bear expeditions off of the coast of Hudson Bay. I successfully connected with him at a hotel in the Yukon that had just enough wifi to stream our conversation. We chat all about bears, salmon, how the Pebble Mine came to be, and the latest updates from the frontlines. 

While listening to this episode, I recommend checking out Fat Bear Week on Instagram and other social platforms for a hilarious visual of the bears Drew and I chat about. It’s truly a sight to behold!

Alright, everyone. Here is my conversation with Drew:

Ep. 44 | Grizzly Bears & Salmon Runs: Protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay with Drew Hamilton
Ep. 44 | Grizzly Bears & Salmon Runs: Protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay with Drew Hamilton
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Watch this episode on YouTube.

Key Takeaways & Highlights

🐻 Drew’s journey from Iowa to Washington DC for undergrad, and settling in Alaska
🐻 How Drew gained his knowledge of bears
🐻 Drew’s involvement in a large-scale salmon genetics project
🐻 Salmons’ life history and importance to wildlife and communities
🐻 The back story behind Pebble Mine at the Bristol Bay headwaters
🐻 What is was like for Drew to embark on his journey defending Bristol Bay against Pebble Mine, including suing the federal government
🐻 The latest updates from the frontlines
🐻 How any can help support the cause and (hopefully) obtain permanent protection for Bristol Bay

Links & Resources

Drew’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drewhh/

Organizations Mentioned in the Episode:
Trustees for Alaska: https://trustees.org/
Friends of McNeil River: https://www.friendsofmcneilriver.org/
Trout Unlimited: https://www.tu.org/
SalmonState: https://salmonstate.org/
World Wildlife Fund: https://www.worldwildlife.org/
National Parks Conservation Association: https://www.npca.org/

Take Action:
Defend Bristol Bay: https://www.defendbristolbay.com/
United Tribes of Bristol Bay: https://www.utbb.org/

Books
Tales of Alaska’s Bush Rat Governor: The Extraordinary Autobiography of Jay Hammond, Wilderness Guide and Reluctant Politician: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Alaskas-Bush-Governor-Extraordinary/dp/0945397437

Articles:
EPA Announces New Steps in Process to Protect Bristol Bay Watershed Under Clean Water Act Authority: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-new-steps-process-protect-bristol-bay-watershed-under-clean-water-act

Contacting Drew

You can reach Drew by messaging him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drewhh/

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Check out other Rewildology Episodes.

Ep. 43 Show Notes | Saving the Giants of South America with Bridgette San Marco
Ep. 42 Show Notes | Conservation Meets Psychology: How to Foster Meaningful Engagement with Kayla Cranston, PhD
Ep. 41 Show Notes | Rewilding the Land Down Under with Michael McFadden

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