A report of a brown bear wandering through Kenai near Mountain View Elementary School Thursday is a good reminder to area residents that it's not quite hibernation season yet.
"We have a few more weeks of bear encounters," said Kenai Police Sergeant Scott McBride.
He said the police department received several calls Thursday morning regarding a bear wandering through the residential area adjacent to the Kenai Spur Highway. One caller said the bear had a wounded right paw.
McBride said they tracked the bear through a muddy area and saw by the size of its roughly 6-inch diameter paws that it's a smaller bear.
"We found where the bear went through the neighborhood over there," he said. The bear went "down somewhere between the golf course and the school. He went into a ravine down there."
McBride said the police are assuming the bear is still in the area.
They notified the elementary and high schools as well as residents who were working in their yards to be on the lookout for a wayward bear.
"We're just letting him go," he said. "He's moving through. He's not sticking around and digging through garbage."
McBride said that while the department receives several calls each week about bear sightings, there have not been instances like those earlier in the summer, where bears were damaging private property getting to human food waste.
"It seems like we're slowly evolving for taking more responsibility for how we live in bear country," said Larry Lewis of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Wildlife Conservation.
Lewis said citizens should keep up the good work in minimizing attractants around their homes.
But, even though winter is coming, it's no time to get complacent.
"In coastal Alaska you can find bears out anytime of the year," he said.
In general bears begin to move to their dens to hibernate in November. But, Lewis said, he cannot remember a month that the department has not received a call about a bear.
"The bottom line is don't let your guard down and don't change your habits in managing attractants around your property," he said.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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