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Photographing the World’s Largest Black Bears

In this episode, I head to the swamps of North Carolina and to a place known as the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula. This may be one of the coolest wildlife photography destinations you have never heard of. This unsuspecting bit of landscape plays home to both the densest concentrations of black bears in the world and also the largest black bears in terms of size and weight. 

But it’s not just about black bears. This peninsula is also home to last remaining population the most critically endangered species of mammal in North America:  red wolves (Canis rufus). Come winter, 75% of the entire tundra swan population makes their way from Canada down to this peninsula. Some 200,000 snow geese winter here, and around half a million ducks as well. 

Much of the habitat is nearly as endangered as the red wolf. These swamps are a particular brand of wetland known as pocosin. This name is derived from the Algonquian word that means “swamp on a hill.” Early explorers to the area found these pocosin to be impenetrable jungles of evergreen shrubs. Men would spend 10 hours bushwhacking their way through this stuff only to find that they had traveled less than a mile. 

 

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