Watch brown bears in their natural habitat as they swim, play, sleep, or eat. Learn about the hibernating habits of Killisnoo and Chaik, brothers who were abandoned as cubs. Then play with ducks, chickens, and goats at the petting zoo. It’s all part of the unique tour at this center for education and brown bear preservation.
The Fortress of the Bear is the brainchild of Les Kinnear, a hunting guide and outdoor enthusiast. When local wildlife management agencies asked him to kill two orphaned cubs, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. So for the last 10 years he’s worked to create a safe haven for cubs. The Fortress of the Bear is now home to five bears. They take in abandoned or orphaned cubs and then work to find new homes for them, sending them to zoos around the country.
The bears live in ¾-acre enclosures that were built with salvaged wood from the town’s closed mill and are filled with vegetation, water, and rocks (to mimic the nearby woods). Bears even eat salmon from the local hatchery. You’ll view these creatures from raised platforms while a guide shares information about bear safety, nutrition, and biology. It’s a great place to get close-up photos of bears, and kids will love the attached petting zoo. (Yes, it’s a strange addition, but caring for other species was part of the state requirement.)