Are bear encounters on the rise? 'It's that time of year' Fish & Game says

Image Source: Pixabay / MGN
Image Source: Pixabay / MGN(KALB)
Published: Jul. 23, 2018 at 3:04 PM AKDT
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How many bears live in or around Anchorage? There have been several bear encounters, one fatal mauling and three closed campgrounds because of problem bears this summer.

The most recent event was reported this past weekend after a black bear damaged a camper's tent and scratched the person inside. That lead refuge managers to


But, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says it doesn't know how many bears live in or around Anchorage.

"We don't have a way of measuring that," Ken Marsh with Fish and Game said. "Unfortunately it seems like we certainly had our share of bear encounters this year, and we continue to have them both in town and outside of town, on trails and such, but (it's) really impossible to quantify and say whether it's an increase from last year or the year before. I guess suffice to say: it's that time of year."

Marsh says it's also unclear if bear encounters have increased. He says bears blend in with the environment around them, and flight restrictions around Anchorage affect having an accurate count.

"We don't have an estimate, we don't have a census on black bear or brown bears," Marsh said, "they're pretty much at this point impossible to count."

Alaska Fish and Game

after the sow reportedly ripped into a camper's tent.

This comes after Fish and Game

, after suspecting the bears were the ones involved in the fatal mauling of Michael Soltis.


Meanwhile, Monday morning hikers were scrambling up Flattop, many of them armed with guns or bear spray.

"We live in Alaska for a reason and you just gotta be safe, gotta respect the environment," Rebekka Winkler, an Anchorage hiker said. "And, like I said, bear spray for first resort, gun for last resort and then just kind of hope you don't have to use any of them."