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‘Almost daily’: Lots of bear sightings at Alaska Botanical Garden

A can of bear spray ready to go at the ticket booth at the Alaska Botanical Garden.
A can of bear spray ready to go at the ticket booth at the Alaska Botanical Garden.(Taylor Clark)
Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Visitors are returning to enjoy the sights and smells of the Alaska Botanical Garden this summer, according to staff. Recently, there have been a lot of bears joining them, said Director Mike Monterusso.

He reminds folks that in these wooded areas, everyone — including the staff — are the visitors.

“The bears are very active right now, so we’ve been seeing them almost daily,” he said. “We’re in their territory and not vise versa.”

Whenever there is a bear sighting at the gardens, Monterusso said the first objective is always the same: finding the bear.

He said if a visitor sights one and reports it to staff, the staff will ask some questions about where it was, and how it was behaving. He said it’s important to know if the bear is agitated or just curious, for example.

No matter the behavior, Monterusso said the protocol is always the same. Guests will be asked to go back to the front of the garden by the admission booth and wait to see how the situation plays out.

“We keep folks there until we haven’t seen the bear for at least 20 minutes,” Monterusso said.

He clarified that those rules go for all bear sightings, whether it be a mother with cubs, a lone bear, or any other kind of sighting. Staff said that they sometimes will have to close early if it’s a particularly sensitive situation.

All staff carry bear spray with them, and there are additional cans stored at the facility. Monterusso said the website, as well as signage at the front of the gardens, all remind people to be bear aware.

He said it’s important to stick with one’s group when taking a stroll through the garden, and try to make some noise while enjoying the grounds.

Additionally, he said there have been plenty of moose on the grounds lately, which Alaskans know can be just as dangerous. Monterusso said people should be on the lookout for them as well.

While there have been several sightings lately, Monterusso said no one has been attacked at the Alaska Botanical Garden since he started working there 10 years ago.

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