For the third consecutive year, Katmai national park in Alaska will have several live webcams set up to broadcast video of the local brown bears. The bears, and the cameras that track them, have steadily grown in popularity since 2012, when the Annenberg Foundations's Explore.org group first helped to set them up. As detailed by The Awl, much of that popularity came because nature lovers were able to do more than just watch giant mammals hunt fish — they were able to create a narrative about what was happening.
The story, as told by Katmai national park ranger Roy Wood, is that a bear created a "cache" of food that was visible on camera. That's a rare enough thing, but apparently a larger bear, dubbed "Lurch," came along and killed the first bear, then took over the cache. Initial outrage eventually gave way to understanding:
By the end of the week, I was so proud of the people on these cams, because they went from complete horror and disgust and disdain for this animal to using words like "power" and "strength" and "survival" and "tenacity." And that's exactly, sort of, the goal here— to get people to have respect, and a deeper understanding.
Wood had originally tried to set up cameras himself but ran into money and technical problems, but Explore.org's Charles Annenberg Weingarten stepped in to fund them, as the foundation has done in dozens places all around the world. In an interview with Mashable, Weingarten said he hopes to add more cameras in "underwater settings and [is also] interested in using drones to capture footage of poaching of endangered animals." If bears aren't your thing, Explore.org hosts live cameras for bison, beaches, and (of course) rescued kittens as well.