Black bear cub draws visitors, but biologist warns it may not be an orphan

Published: Jun. 28, 2017 at 6:37 PM AKDT
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Near Anchorage, onlookers have been visiting a road hoping to catch a glimpse of a black bear cub.

Connie Loveall, a Wasilla resident said she's seen the cub alone for the past three days.

"I've seen plenty of bears, I did see one down at Russian River a mama bear with her baby, but mama was with it all the time and I've seen it actually 2 days in a row down there, but there's no mama here, nowhere," Loveall said.

While it may seemingly be alone, the cub may not actually be an orphan, according to Dave Battle, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"That's not a very uncommon thing to see with black bears," Battle said.

Battle said department officials haven't seen the bear yet, but say the cub's mother could be nearby.

"At this point none of our personnel has seen it, we know that we've been getting reports there is also a black bear sow and some other cubs in very close proximity which is you know within a quarter or a half mile which so this cub might very well belong to that one," Battle said.

For that reason, the department is cautioning everyone to keep their distance.

"The more people that come in close proximity and particularly if they're surrounding it or something they could be preventing an adult from getting back to it," Battle said.

Anyone who gets too close might also be endangering themselves.

"You might be coming between between that baby and its mother and that could be a dangerous situation," Battle said.

While it may be tempting to get a closer peek at the cub, Battle said people need to remember not to approach, touch or feed the bear.

In the best case scenario, Battle said the cub will remain in the wild.

Battle said black bears typically keep their young with them for about one year while brown bears stay with theirs for 2 to 3 years.