Don't pooh-pooh these bears

Posted: Thursday, November 08, 2001

It's not a joke.

Brown bears still are being seen near the Mendenhall Glacier. A sow and her cub have been in the area for about a month, and have bluff-charged hikers on the Trail of Time, said U.S. Forest Service recreation staff officer Ron Marvin. All trails in the area are closed now.

Some residents have pooh-poohed the danger, said interpreter Denise Wolvin, and continue to hike the Moraine Ecology Trail.

"People aren't believing we actually have brown bears. They think we put up brown bear signs because we don't have black bear signs," Wolvin said.

Officials ask hikers to heed the closures as long as the warning signs remain in place, and to use caution while in the area of the glacier.

Because brown bears are a rarity near Juneau, the Division of Wildlife Conservation of the state Department of Fish and Game is considering putting transmitters on the bears, Marvin said. Assistant area biologist Polly Hessing said it was a "low possibility."

"We are talking about it," Hessing said. "We had some folks go out there last night and look for the bears but couldn't find them. It would be useful if we could track them.

"If we knew exactly where they were, it would help the Forest Service manage the area. It is unusual to have (brown bears) around, so we would like to know where they hang out and if they stay around next year," Hessing said.

For updates on trail closures, call the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center at 789-6640.

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Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.



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