A mama bear and a valuable lesson

Everybody who lives in Juneau probably has a bear story — here’s mine.


I’ve lived on Garnet Street in the Mendenhall Valley for about 50 years and have seen many black bears, fortunately from a safe distance.

Today, Saturday, while walking my dog (a 10-year-old Gordon Setter) on the old road, a mama bear rushed out of the woods and stopped about five feet from me, looked down the road at my retreating dog, then looked at me for a second or two, growled, then joined her two cubs in the woods. I had pepper spray in my jacket pocket and in my hand by the time mama bear joined the two cubs, but did not have time to remove the safety clip.

Two ladies were south of me, just starting on the old road, and two or three people were about a hundred yards from me heading south. The mama bear, followed by the two cubs, then crossed the old road about 25 or 30 feet north of me and headed toward the main highway. These exciting moments were only a few seconds long but are memorable.

I learned something, however, and that is to carry the pepper spray in my hand with the orange safety clip removed. Mama bears are very fast, but I am thankful that she did not consider me a threat.

Dick Zagars,



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