LAST SUMMER, JOE, a fishing guide from Milwaukee in the USA, suggested that we stand together. “We’ll look like one big animal with a lot of legs,” he said. This seemed a sensible recommendation, because far across this open plain, on Alaska’s Kodiak Island, a bear was running toward us. It was a Kodiak brown bear, the world’s largest land carnivore, an animal that can weigh up to 1,700 pounds and move at thirty-five miles per hour.

“Let’s back away from the water,” Joe said. The bear crossed in front of us and leaped into the bend of the river where we had just been fishing. Young but impressive, ...


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