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PHOTOS: Alaska's McNeil River a treat for bear lovers

A brown bear fishes for salmon on the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
Brown bears fish for salmon in the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
Brown bears fish for salmon in the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
Brown bears play in the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
The photographer, Coby Brock, at the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
A brown bear fishes for salmon in the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
A brown bear rests near the McNeil River. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
A brown bear fishes for salmon in the McNeil River near Katmai National Park. July 17, 2012
Courtesy Coby Brock / kissamoose.com
Coby Brock

Tourist-clogged downtown Anchorage may see the most dense gathering of humans in Alaska each summer.

For bears, the equivalent spot may be the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary on the Alaska Peninsula, 100 air miles west of Homer.

Gangs of brown bears, ursus arctos horribilis, gather daily to scoop up meals of protein-rich salmon as chum and sockeyes move up McNeil River. How many bears? The most counted this year was 66, according to Edward Weiss, lands and refuge manager for Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“I’ve been everywhere in Alaska taking pictures, and it was the best trip you can do,” said Coby Brock, a 34-year-old North Pole, Alaska-based photographer, who visited earlier this summer. “There’s nothing that can compare. The sheer amount of bears is incredible. 

“I saw 66 bears at once. Last year, on a family vacation to Katmai (National Park and Preserve), if we saw 12 bears, we were really stoked. This was a completely different experience. It made Katmai look like a joke.”

READ MORE: Thick with huge brown bears, McNeil River a treat for wildlife lovers

Coby Brock is an Alaska-based photographer. His photos can be viewed at kissamoose.com.