Sightings of bears abound near Juneau

Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Brown bears and black bears continue to be the cause for concern in and near Juneau.

Fishermen who plan to fish for salmon at Sweetheart Creek should beware of several brown bears frequenting the area.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued a warning Monday about the creek, 37 miles southeast of Juneau. The creek, which flows into Gilbert Bay, is known for its chum run.

On Saturday and Sunday, a sown and her two cubs were at the creek almost continuously. Fish and Game recommends the following bear safety etiquette:

Always be on the lookout for bears.

Make noise while traveling through bear habitat so the bears will know you are there.

Travel in groups whenever possible.

Do not leave food or fish unattended on the riverbank.

If you see a bear, give the animal space and the right of way.

Never run from a bear.

For other details on bear safety, call Neil Barten at the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, 465-4267.

Between Thursday morning and this morning, the Juneau Police Department fielded at least 29 bear calls -- including two from a Lemon Creek trailer park where bears got into arctic entries.

Leaving beef bones and filleted salmon on the grass, as someone did at Evergreen Cemetery last week, will attract bears, as will cracked corn, black oil sunflower seeds, dog food dishes on porches and unsecured garbage.

Highlands resident Ron Maas, who founded Save Our Bears a few years ago, is thinking about re-forming the organization. Maas said he was upset about last Thursday's shooting of a black bear on Calhoun Avenue.

``We are so lucky to live in a place like this. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to see bears; we really love the one we have up here,'' Maas said.

Maas is offering to donate the use of his small plane to transport tranquilized bears away from Juneau. He has already talked to area biologist Barten about taking the bears away and is talking to city officials about other arrangements to protect local bears. For further details, call Maas at 586-1362.

Chuck Cohen, manager of Kodzoff Acres Mobile Home Park, said his patrons have sheds to keep garbage in, and thinks ravens, ``the smartest birds in the world,'' are a bigger problem than bears when the cans are out awaiting trash collection.

``We walked around the park and gave patrons bungee cords to secure their can lids. But the ravens are smart enough to grab a handle of the cords, flutter, fly down, break it loose, and then unlock the lids,'' Cohen said.

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