Bears of Alaska

Brown bear (Ursus arctos) laying in the wild flowers on the Kenai Peninsula. Black bear (Ursus americanus) peers over the grass in Prince William Sound. Brown bear (Ursus arctos) with cub in Prince William Sound. Brown bear (Ursus arctos) with cub in Prince William Sound jumps at a fish. Black bear (Ursus americanus) in Prince William Sound. Brown bear (Ursus arctos) with cub in Prince William Sound.

 

Photos of both black and brown bears, courtesy of Milo Burcham.

The Chugach and Tongass National Forests of Alaska are home to thousands of black bears (Ursus americanus) and brown bears (Ursus arctos). Seeing a bear in the wild can be the highlight of any trip.

Know Before You Go printable safety sheet (PDF)

Bear Biology, Behavior, and Status

Bears are intelligent animals, capable of learning and modifying their behavior based on life experiences. All species have an acute sense of smell. The First Nations have a poignant saying: “A pine needle fell. The eagle saw it. The deer heard it. The bear smelled it.” Smell is a bear’s most fundamental and important sense. Bears are thought to have reasonable visual acuity and hearing. Knowledge of bears’ senses and appreciation of their curious nature is useful information to remember when in bear country.

 

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Safety tips when traveling in bear country

To safely enjoy the experience, visitors to bear country should be prepared for a possible encounter and understand that even in the more popular viewing areas, these are still wild bears. While planning a visit, whether for a day hike or a more extended excursion, understanding and exercising proper preparation for personal safety and management of food and other attractants will go a long way toward ensuring a rewarding experience.

It is important to learn how to conduct yourself in bear country since you are responsible for your own safety. Your behavior influences the outcome of bear encounters.

 

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r10/plants-animals/?cid=FSEPRD500233