The bears at Steep Creek near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center are popular with both tourists and Juneau residents.
There are estimated to be more than 12 bears currently cruising the area, moving up and down along the stream, avoiding encounters with each other, and trying to avoid encounters with humans. They may be having a bit of a hard time this year, because the salmon are scarce in the creek.
Very recently, a bear was struck by a bus in an area where the speed limit is 20 mph. I know from personal experience that few of the buses and shuttle vans abide by that speed limit, putting both bears and human pedestrians at risk. Some of these vehicles are careening down the road at speeds that threaten any living thing along the road.
This bear eventually pulled itself into the woods, using its front legs. Much later, it was seen to stagger off, deeper into the forest. And now we have two unpleasant possibilities: 1) a dead bear that ultimately died of its injuries, or 2) a cranky bear that still needs to eat salmon but is hurting and has trouble getting around. Neither of these outcomes is desirable, for what I hope are obvious reasons.
Better enforcement of the speed limits near the visitor center would certainly help avoid such undesirable outcomes in future. Better education of the drivers would be entirely appropriate also.
Mary F. Willson
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