The bears are beginning to stir around Juneau, but it’s too soon to tell if this year’s bruin season will be as busy as last.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, reports of bear sightings have been trickling in from all over the state.
Here in Juneau, ADF&G Area Management Biologist Ryan Scott said bear activity has been reported from Berners Bay to Juneau. He said that’s nothing out of the ordinary and there’s no reason to think this year will be busy.
Yet, in July last year, residents of the downtown Starr Hill neighborhood were sharing stories of bears in homes and bold cubs. A number of bears were relocated as a result.
And while it would be nice to predict if Juneau will see a “bumper crop” of young and brave bears this summer, Scott said it’s not like forecasting the weather.
“I guess the best you could do would be an educated guess based on our activity in the field and getting to know a portion of the family groups around,” he said. “The bears that we felt like were a concern or an issue, so to speak, last year, we were pretty proactive with them. So, the ones that we anticipate showing up here in the next few weeks, we don’t have a lot of history with them. A lot will depend on their behavior and people.”
Yes, the bears are slowly coming around.
“We usually start hearing about a bear or two in the month of March. By the time April rolls around, the (reports) increase and people will call us and say they saw some tracks, or something like that,” Scott said. “By mid-May, we anticipate that the majority of bears have emerged from hibernation and they are out doing what bears do.”
ADF&G released a notice this week reminding Alaska residents to take down attractants — like suet feeders and high-calorie bird seed — and Governor Sean Parnell proclaimed April as “Bear Awareness Month.”
“Alaskans need to remember to secure attractants such as garbage, bird seed and pet food so bears and other wildlife don’t find food around homes, in neighborhoods or at camps or cabins. It is illegal to feed bears, even unintentionally, and many Alaska communities have additional ordinances requiring residents to keep garbage out of reach of bears,” the release stated.
In Juneau, local ordinances require that garbage be contained and fines are associated with such a violation. More information on the regulations can be found on the city website (www.juneau.org/bears/laws.php).
“All the stuff that we talk about throughout the summer,” Scott said, “this is the time that we start reminding folks — tuning them up for the season, so to speak.”
Officials also reminded residents that mother bears will be emerging with cubs. It is important, they said, to always make noise when moving through bear country.
• Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at firstname.lastname@example.org.