FAIRBANKS - Park rangers are asking campers and picnickers to be careful after a bear shredded an empty tent at Chena Lake Recreation Area and later rocked a small RV back and forth while a person was inside.
Borough recreation area manager Matt Steffy said rangers have posted warning signs on trails and at campgrounds.
Steffy said the bear visited an empty campsite Monday evening, destroying the tent and the pillows and sleeping bags inside. The bear also got into some garbage or food that had been left out.
The campers initially reported the incident to some firefighters who were battling a small wildfire at the recreation area. Troopers were called, but the bear had left the scene by then, said Sgt. Scott Quist, with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Fairbanks.
The bear returned to the other side of the campground about five hours later and shook the RV. The woman inside honked the horn, prompting the bear to climb a tree before leaving a short time later.
The woman, who is from out of state, was rattled by the incident but not enough to prevent her from spending another night or two at the campground, Steffy said.
Steffy isn't certain if it was a black bear or a grizzly; either way, it was big.
"We've got some pretty good claw marks going up the tree," he said. "It may be a pretty large black bear."
Quist said there's a chance the bear was rubbing against the RV, not rocking it.
"At this time of year, when they're shedding, they scratch on just about anything they can find," Quist said.
With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, park rangers reminded campers and picnickers to clean up their camps and garbage.
Quist said a "game plan" will be needed if the bear comes back.
"If it continues to show fearlessness we'll have to take action," Quist said. "Hopefully it's just passing through and isn't a local resident."