Living With Bears
One thing that makes Alaska unique is that all three species of North American bears flourish here. It is not uncommon for residents or visitors to Alaska to see bears, usually from a safe distance. But even if you don't see a bear, you will never be far from one; Alaska is bear country.
By learning about the lives of black bears, brown bears (including grizzly), or polar bears, you will enhance your enjoyment of these species and help minimize human-bear conflicts. Whether you are learning about bears for the purpose of hunting, viewing, traveling safely, or deterring bears from your property, the more you know the better.
Living in Bear Country
Living in a state with large predators comes with responsibilities. In order to maintain healthy bear populations and reduce conflicts with bears, certain precautions should be taken. Whether it is keeping the garbage at your home secure, or maintaining a clean campsite, your behavior often dictates the bear's behavior. Learn more about living and camping in bear country on these pages so that you, and the bears, can live safely together.
- Report dangerous bear situations to ADF&G using the wildlife encounter form.
- What to do if you have a conflict with a bear
- If you want to speak to an ADF&G staff person, contact your local area office.
Responsible Handling of Bear Attractants
Living with bears requires that people keep all human sources of food secure from bears. The following pages provide useful tips to help keep bears wild and people safe.
- Bear Attractants and Solutions: Food
- Bear Deterrent Electric Fences
- Bear Resistant Containers
- Garbage Incinerators
Safety in Bear Country
If you encounter a bear, how you behave often dictates the outcome of the encounter. Even though encounters with bears are not common and aggressive bear encounters are rare, the more you know about bear safety the better off you are. Learn about safety in bear country on these pages. Get the facts and dispel myths so that you can enjoy the outdoors with confidence and competence.
- Safety in Bear Country
- Bear Safety for Hunters
- Bear Safety for Anglers
- Bear Safety for Kids
Safety for Kids — Bear Aware ADF&G Coloring Book (2016 version) (PDF 2,951 kB)
Print at home using 8.5x11" paper landscape format, side staple or corner staple.
Educators: For multiple copies, contact the DWC Wildlife Education program.
- Safety for Kids — Bear Aware Coloring Book (2003 version) (PDF 1,080 kB) This version has fewer words, so may be a better choice for younger children.
- Safety for Kids — Bear Aware ADF&G Coloring Book (2016 version) (PDF 2,951 kB)
- Bear Safety Framework for Wildlife Professionals (PDF 417 kB)
- What You Should Know About Bear Spray (PDF 514 kB)
Safety in Polar Bear Country
- Polar Bears and Humans: Safety Guidelines — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF)
- Polar Bear Facts — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Polar Bear Viewing in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Safety in Polar Bear Country — Parks Canada (PDF 1,057 kB)
- Traveling Safely Along the Northeast Alaska Coast — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF 303 kB)
Videos and Story Maps
The Safety in Bear Country Society, in cooperation with the International Association of Bear Research and Management, has developed four excellent videos/DVD's about staying safe in bear country. Copies are available on loan from ADF&G Area Offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau or you may search online to order copies.
- Staying Safe in Bear Country (Also available for free at youtube.com/watch?v=s-zkGuh42l4)
- Working in Bear Country
- Living in Bear Country
Anchorage Bears Story Map
Learn more about the lives of urban bears, and see Anchorage from a bear's perspective. This Story Map shows data from an ADF&G research project that tracked nine bears using GPS collars that included a video camera.
Tom Griffin, Wildlife Specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, offers safety tips on how to be prepared while recreating in bear country.
What to do if you encounter a bear
Tom Griffin, Wildlife Specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, offers safety tips on what to do if you encounter a bear.
Bear spray demonstration
Watch Tom Griffin, Wildlife Specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, give a quick bear spray demonstration. Please click on the link to get more detailed information on using bear spray. What you should know about Bear Spray (PDF 514 kB)
HEY BEARS!!! How YOU Can Stay Safe in Bear Country.
This 19-minute DVD produced by ADF&G, Wayne Hall-Stoutman Productions and students from Mirror Lake Middle School in Eagle River is for elementary students. You can view this DVD online, or sign up to receive a free DVD for your classroom or youth group.
Bear Spray Demonstration for Hunters, with Craig Boddington
This 60-second video demonstrates the proper use of bear spray.
Bear and Moose Safety Presentation
Watch Tom Griffin, Wildlife Specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, as he gives a presentation on tips to help you stay safe in Alaska bear and moose country.
Look at these web pages to find out what you can do to deal with problems with bears.
- What to do if you have a conflict with a bear
- Questions or concerns? Contact your local area office.
Alaska has several interagency or community groups across the state aimed at minimizing human-bear conflicts and increasing bear awareness among residents and visitors to Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game often leads these committees, or is an active member of them. Contact the Wildlife Education Program Coordinator, 907-465-8547 if you are interested in learning more about these community partnerships. To find out about upcoming public programs on bear awareness/wildlife safety, visit our calendar.
- Want to reach ADF&G biologists about a wildlife encounter?
- Electric Fences Keep Bears Out
- Collared Bears Provide Insights
- Bird Feeders and Bears
- Bear Signs Alert Hikers
- Fishing in Bear Country and Staying Safe
- Hazing Brown Bears at Port Armstrong
- Videos on Bears and Bear Safety
- The Urban-Wild Mendenhall Bears: Studying the Bear Human Interface
- Urban Living from the Bruins' Perspective
- Bear-Proofing Cabins Prevents Bear Break-ins