Juneau — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game would like to remind Juneau community members that bears are out of hibernation and doing what they do best—frequenting our neighborhood habitats and local trails looking for food.
Recent mild winters have been good to bears; they are healthy and the department has received several reports of females with multiple new cubs. Like all youngsters, cubs learn from their mothers. Hence, it’s important to make sure bears are not getting into attractants such as trash, chicken coops, BBQs, smokers, and pet food. ADF&G recommends securing them appropriately in bear resistant containers, garages or sturdy sheds. It’s also important to protect livestock, such as chickens or ducks, with electric fences. Bears are intelligent creatures and remember where they have previously found a meal. They’ll likely return if they have received a reward.
Bear activity around the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in particular has increased in recent weeks, and females with cubs use these areas as a refuge from adjacent urban environments. Female black bears with cubs can become agitated, and will protect their young. According to reports, one sow with multiple cubs in the Dredge Lakes Area has been showing signs of stress due to repeated interactions with humans and dogs. Signs have been posted to warn recreational users about this female protecting her cubs, therefore dogs should be leashed at all times, or under strict voice command. Owners should not allow their dogs to approach or chase bears whenever possible. For safety, ADF&G always recommends people travel in groups and make noise to alert bears of your presence, and to always give bears plenty of space.
Female black bears generally keep their “yearling” offspring until about 18 months of life. June is usually when mother black bears forcefully encourage their young to become independent and fend for themselves. Yearling bears have long legs, appear skinny and many people think they are orphaned cubs; they are not. These young bears have learned feeding behavior from their mothers so it is important to prevent them from getting into human foods and garbage. Yearling black bears are still learning how to be “wild” bears and may be more visible to the public for a period of time. Never feed bears. Not only is it illegal, but it also creates future problems for both humans and bears.
For more information or to report bear activity in the area contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 465-4265.