Visitors warned about bears on the beach

Posted: Sunday, June 18, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- Visitors to Pasagshak may not be alone on the beach this summer.

Wildlife officials say bears may be strolling the shore as well, attracted by the large number of whales recently beached in the area.

''Between Chiniak and the Ugak Bay area (including Ugak Island) there are seven that I know of that have washed up since, I don't know, three weeks ago,'' University of Alaska Fairbanks biologist Kate Wynne said.

Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Larry VanDaele said people will need to be more aware of their surroundings than usual.

''Whales will draw bears in from quite a ways,'' he said.

One whale washed up last week on Narrow Cape near Kathy Burton's ranch. Burton didn't think bears had yet discovered the whale, or another one beached at Pasagshak Point.

''So far as I know, no bear's been to either one, which is real strange,'' she said. ''Of course, the fish are running now.''

The fact fish are running and bears are primarily eating vegetation this time of year will decrease the attraction but not eliminate it, VanDaele said.

''Bears like to eat this time of year, and if they find a concentrated food source they'll take advantage of it,'' he said.

VanDaele said the danger won't subside anytime soon.

''I would guess (the whale are) going to be around for the rest of the summer,'' VanDaele said. ''It's going to be stinky for quite a while.''

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