Restless brown, black bears on move now, too

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2001

This is the time of year to be alert for bear problems in your own back yard.

Ted Spraker, area game biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna, warned that a combination of factors puts young bears on the prowl this month.

"This is the time of year that we start seeing a lot of brown bear and black bear around town," he said. "Don't leave anything out that will attract a bear."

The department is getting a lot of bear calls, sometimes several in a day, he said Tuesday.

The bears are looking for food.

Earlier, they were preying on newborn moose and caribou calves. Now, the calves are old enough to be faster and warier, so predators have a hard time catching them.

By the end of July, enough salmon will be up area creeks to keep the bears' bellies full.

But in the meantime, they are hungry.

"It is also the time of year that the sows run the 2-and-a-half-year-olds off," Spraker said. "It is usually the young bears that get in trouble."

Young bears do not have home ranges of their own. The mothers will tolerate their daughters lingering in the vicinity. But they run off their sons.

The juvenile males wander from place to place, getting chased away by older, larger bears defending territories, he said.

Often those young males end up in town. To a hungry young bear, civilization can seem like paradise at first. Trash cans, pet food, fish smokers and other goodies humans leave outside make for easy meals.

Spraker noted a change over the years he has been a biologist here. Twenty years ago, most of the bears sighted in town were blackies. Now it is brownies.

He warned that young bears are far stronger than humans.

"They are very powerful, even small ones," he warned.

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