Welcome to the 2013 Juneau area Wildlife Roundup for the week of July 30. The intent of this column is to provide Juneau residents updates on wildlife activity in the area and general wildlife information.
Calls concerning black bear activity increased over the last week, which is consistent with the last few years. Bears continue to transition between spring and early summer vegetation, to berries and salmon. Salmon are in local creeks, and berries appear to be plentiful which should provide good forage for bears in the coming weeks. The majority of calls came from:
• North Douglas Highway
• Fish Creek Pond
• Valley neighborhoods adjacent to Thunder Mountain
• Valley neighborhoods adjacent to the valley movie theater
• Lena Loop
• Tee Harbor Area
The number of black bears that have been translocated — captured and released in a new location — so far for 2013 remains at one.
So far this year, the department has not had to humanely kill any bears.
Based on reports, it’s evident black bears are currently active throughout Juneau. Many of the concerns can be addressed through the proper storage of garbage, and the removal of attractants such as fish scraps and waste, bird feeders and pet food. By taking a few simple steps to eliminate attractants the number of unwanted bear encounters can be reduced. Residents should check that all garbage cans and dumpsters are functioning properly. Keep in mind that the new garbage cans, fielded last summer, are not bear resistant and must be stored in a garage, shed, or some other stout enclosure and only removed on the day of pick up. Chicken coops should be protected by an electric fence. The department is actively working with residents to address a small number of bears that have become destructive or demonstrated aggressive behavior.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Wildlife Troopers are asking for the publics’ help with information concerning two recent bear killings. A bear was found dead in the Lena Point area and another along Gastineau Channel south of downtown. The circumstances surrounding the death of these two bears remains unknown, and neither kill was reported. If anyone has information concerning either of the two bears, please contact the Alaska Wildlife Troopers at 465-4000, or ADF&G at 465-4265. Callers may remain anonymous by calling the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Safeguard hotline at 1-800-478-3377 and may be eligible for a reward.
Many folks are traveling to Sweetheart Creek to fish for sockeye, or going to Fish Creek for king salmon and are encountering bears in both locations. People should exercise caution when fishing and do everything possible to prevent bears from getting the catch, including leaving the area, with their fish, if necessary. Fishers should make noise and travel in groups when going to and from fishing sites, as well as be vigilant while fishing. Keep your catch close at hand so bears do not steal the fish, and be sure to discard carcasses and other fish waste in deep or fast moving water.
Fewer black bears and Sitka black-tailed deer are being seen feeding along local roads as both species move onto other food sources or deeper into wooded areas out of sight. Please do not stop along side of feeding bears and wildlife and do not loiter in the area. This can create an unsafe traffic situation, and may alarm the animal which may move or run into traffic. It is appropriate to view wildlife along the roads only when there is an area where vehicles can be parked off the road, and viewing can be accomplished from a distance that will not harass the animals.
• Ryan Scott is a wildlife biologist
for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. For additional information and questions, please contact the Douglas Area wildlife office at 465-4265.