If somebody asks me what I think is the most American mammal, I hesitate between the cougar and black bear.

Nowadays, since the cougar’s habitat is very reduced and the black bear does so well in a large variety of habitats, I think he is the winner. His name in Latin is Ursus americanus — not more, not less than “American bear.”

Certain habitats are not complete without a black bear in them. On a field trip in the Juneau area in southern Alaska, I had the most wonderful opportunities for bear watching in the most beautiful scenery that a hiker could dream of. The evidence of bears was visible everywhere, and we couldn’t avoid a few close encounters.

The devil’s club plants were in full fall colors and made the forest into a real wonderland. Juneau is famous for its rain in the fall season, but rain can create a very special atmosphere in dense forests. So much water causes the development of lots of mosses — they have more than 80 species there.

My mind was loaded with inspiration. You have the result in front of you!

— Carl Brenders