A new map from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offers a bear’s eye view of Anchorage. The “story map” draws on data and video collected from nine bears- six black and three brown- who wore cameras on special collars in 2012 and 2013. The videos capture bears playing with lawn art, slurping up barbecue grease and running across busy intersections.
Sean Farley is the biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who led the study.
Why they’re in the city:
“They’re not here to visit us. They could give a hooey about us. They’re here for the garbage, the fish, the berries, the gull eggs, the equisetum, the grasses, the dandelions.”
Bears interacting with other bears:
“We might capture a lone bear, usually a youngster, put a camera on it and more often than not it would hook up with two or three other bears and pal around with them. And in one case we had a young black bear hook up and play with a young brown bear. So they’re a little more social than we give them credit for when they’re young.”
A bear takes a picture of the biologist, from a tree:
“I’m a biologist and that was a head slapper for me.. black bears spend a lot of time in trees and they do in Anchorage. I had just grilled a hot dog and was looking out my window and I realized I was looking at a black bear in a tree in my yard and I’m not way up the hillside at all. I ran outside and it was a collared bear and it actually took a picture of my house.”
The bears are all around:
“From previous work I can tell you that an awful lot of times bears might be 10 or 20 yards off in the bushes while we walk down the trail. We’re a visual species- we don’t see them therefore there aren’t any bears here. But the truth is they’re off to the side being good bears, frankly, avoiding people.”
Confronting the garbage problem:
“Because we do have an awful lot of unsecured garbage, I hope we can really change that. We really need a stronger effort to get bear resistant containers that people can use, and that will make a difference. Because we’re always going to have bears in Anchorage. Anchorage is a big city, but we’re in the middle of wilderness.”