bears

C. Spencer/National Park Service

Voter turnout in local Kenai Peninsula elections was really low this fall.

But there’s one competition in Alaska that saw its highest voter turnout ever this year. That’s probably because its contestants are thousand-pound brown bears.

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Wednesday marks the beginning of a distinctly Alaska holiday—a whole week of celebrating chubby ursine creatures. That’s right—it’s Fat Bear Week.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Officials are telling campers not to tent camp at the Crescent Creek Campground in Cooper Landing after a series of encounters involving a food-conditioned black bear. They’re asking campground visitors to stick to hard-sided vehicles, like cars and RVs, until the bear is no longer a problem.

The service has received repeated reports of a black bear rifling through campers’ tents for food and walking through the campground, said Forest Service Spokesperson Alan Brown.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Jason Oles knows a lot about bears. He’s worked among Kodiak brown bears, Rocky Mountain grizzlies, North Slope polar bears, and Kenai Peninsula black bears, on various national parks and wildlife refuges. Now a ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, he says there are definitely a few tricks to living, working, and recreating among bears.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Wildlife officials said they shot a bear after it attacked a man in his camper near Seward during the busy holiday weekend.

The man had fallen asleep with his camper's door open at Fourth of July Beach, across Resurrection Bay from downtown Seward, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Law enforcement is investigating after a man reported being bitten by a brown bear on the Upper Kenai River Trail this weekend.

A man reported the incident Sunday around 8 p.m. on the upper part of the Kenai River Trail, which starts from Skilak Lake Loop Road. According to Alaska Wildlife Troopers, the man was hiking alone with his dog when the dog chased a female bear with two cubs, causing her to charge the hiker.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Two kayakers paddled six miles to safety across Skilak Lake after they were mauled by a bear early Saturday morning.

Jamie Nelson, of Kenai, was at the Upper Skilak Lake Campground when the kayakers pulled up around 2 a.m..

“Six miles for two hours after being mauled by bears. That’s the part of the story I just can't wrap my head around," he said.

Regina Green

Park officials killed and salvaged an aggressive black bear at Tonsina Creek last night after it bothered several groups of hikers late last week.

Alaska State Parks Ranger Jack Ransom said his department and the Department of Fish and Game were worried about the safety of hikers. Tonsina Creek is a busy trail.

"And in this case, the bear wasn’t going anywhere and it continued to threaten public safety," he said.

Regina Green

The odds of getting attacked by a bear are one in over two million. That’s why Sarah Wallner, who was mauled by a grizzly in 2007, could not believe her misfortune when she and two friends ended up in a standoff with a black bear at Tonsina Creek, near Seward, on Thursday. 

“Oh, not again. This is not happening," Wallner remembers thinking. "Like, this is not supposed to happen again.”

All three were OK, as was the bear, who just suffered from some mace in the face. But the hikers said for the two-ish minutes the standoff lasted, they weren’t so sure what was going to happen.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Troopers have identified the victim of a fatal bear mauling last Thursday near Hope.

46-year old Daniel Schilling of Hope was found dead by family and friends after he was overdue to come home. Troopers say he was out clearing a trail about a mile behind his property, which is about mile 8 of the Hope Highway, that day, but his wife became concerned when he was late and his dog came home without him.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A man was killed by a bear last night near the town of Hope.

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers say the man was clearing brush near his property off the Hope Highway, around mile 8, near the community of Sunrise. Troopers say his wife became worried when he didn’t return on time and his dog returned without him.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula is seeing some of its most beautiful weather of the year right around now, which is getting a lot of people outside. But it’s also getting the bears out, and where they overlap with people, there can be trouble.

On Sunday, a brown bear was reported to have bluff charged a hiker on the Skilak Lookout trail off Skilak Lake Road. No one was reportedly hurt, but running into a bear can be scary. Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger Leah Eskelin says some are taking actions like firing warning shots into the air to scare off bears, but that’s not the best way to go.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

A federal rule change is in the works that would increase hunting and access opportunities on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The modification of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules would more closely align state and federal regulations on national refuges in Alaska, following a 2017 Trump administration order.

The new rules were published in the Federal Register on Thursday and are open for public comment for 60 days. The changes would allow hunting brown bears over bait on the refuge. Trappers would no longer need to get a refuge-specific permit, which requires a seldom-offered orientation class. The discharge of firearms would be allowed along the Kenai and Russian rivers from Nov. 1 to April 30. There would be more access for snowmachines, ATVs and utility vehicles on ice-fishing lakes and there would be more allowance for bikes and game carts.

Rick Green, special assistant to the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says the state sees this as a rightful return to state management of wildlife.

“Unlike most other states in the union, Alaska is one of the only ones that the federal government steps in and manages wildlife when it’s really a state’s rights issue,” Green said.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Alaska hunters spent an unhappy 24 hours reeling from an announcement that all spring bear hunting would be closed through May 31.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s decision was released by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 5 p.m. April 1. The emergency order states says the decision is meant to prevent travelers from bringing the coronavirus to rural communities, which do not have adequate health care resources to deal with an outbreak.

Ted Spraker, chair of the Alaska Board of Game, said the decision is out of the board’s hands.

“None of this is a biological issue. All of this is just a coronavirus, people issue,” Spraker said. “Normally, the governor does not get involved in wildlife management issues. That’s what he has the Board of Game and the commissioner for, and all the Fish and Game staff. This was more public safety than game management.”

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Humans in Alaska are required to stay home as much as possible these days but global pandemics and government mandates have no say over wildlife. As daylight lengthens, snow melts and nature edges toward spring, bears might soon show up in a social distance near you.

“They are definitely starting to come out. We haven’t had too many reports yet. I believe it would have been about a week and a half ago we had a black bear report here in Soldotna,” said Jacob Pelham, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna. “It wasn’t necessarily getting into trouble, it was just probably coming out of its den and walking around looking for food. So people just need to keep that in mind, that this is definitely the time of year right now that bears are going to be coming out and looking for snacks.” 

Dave Atcheson, Jordan Chilson, Pegge Erkeneff, Laura McIndoe, CO Rudstrom, Heddy Huss, Noah Proctor and Pete Sprague share True Tales, Told Live on the theme "Tail Tales: Stories of Animal Encouneter," Recorded Oct. 25, 2019, at Odie's Deli in Soldotna.

Growing bear viewing industry joins chorus against Pebble

May 16, 2019
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

 

Most of the arguments against the proposed Pebble mine in Bristol Bay center on the region’s world class salmon fisheries. But other wildlife concerns are getting some attention, too, as the project’s draft environmental impact statement continues to receive scrutiny.

 

 


Tent camping OK again -- But lock food in car

Aug 6, 2018

Several Central Peninsula campgrounds partially closed because of a bear encounter are open again.

Two weeks ago the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge temporarily closed three campgrounds to tent camping for public safety because of a bear encounter in one of them. An unidentified camper was scratched and their tent was damaged after a black bear came calling at the Lower Ohmer Campground on July 21.