Bear awareness always in season

Posted: Friday, June 30, 2000

Camping in bear country -- just about every square inch of Alaska -- can be an adventure, but it doesn't have to be a dangerous one as long as campers use some common sense.

"People here are more conscientious about keeping their site clean," said Mike Williams, the Discovery Campground host in Captain Cook State Recreation area. "We've had very few problems this spring. Really, nothing's been a problem."

At Captain Cook, a car trunk is an adequate bear-proof container. Food that has been properly stowed away won't attract bears to the campground.

Park Ranger Terry Rude, who covers Captain Cook, cautioned that a brown bear and black bears have been spotted near the Swanson River this spring. He said he thought the brown bear might be one of the cubs that was spotted with its mother in the area last summer.

"We've had a couple of problems with bears -- or rather problems with people that involve bears -- in the past couple of years," Rude said. "It's only a problem if they keep food in their tent or leave it out on their table. We've had to kill two bears in recent years, and it's always related to food."

Rude said that most campers are careful, although they sometimes leave things out that people don't think of as food that attract bears nonetheless.

"Sometimes people don't associate what they have out as food -- things like empty pop cans, barbecue grills and dog food," Rude said. "Anything like that is going to smell good to a bear."

For people interested in bear behavior, Rude will be making a presentation on the topic Saturday at 7 p.m. at the interpretive center near site No. 15 in the Discovery Campground.

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