About Bears

This short book, About Bears, covers the natural history and behavior of North American bears.  Whether you're looking for a scientific overview of bears, a specific analysis of bear-human interactions around Juneau, or cultural reflections on our Ursus friends, this booklet will prove useful.


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From the Introduction:

Juneau’s black bears appear in unexpected places. At first, the backyard bear is entertaining. It symbolizes all that attracts us about Alaska. We might even write our relatives ‘down south’ about it, as proof of the wildness that surrounds us. But when the symbol of wildness flattens our garden fence, or breaks into the garage and spreads a week’s worth of tin calls and banana peels on the driveway, we are less amused. The backyard bear is actually a better symbol of human ignorance and carelessness, and of the collapse of wildness. Unless our backyard has a salmon stream in it, that bear was almost certainly ‘food conditioned,’ or addicted (usually fatally) to human refuse. In 1991, just before Dzantik’i Héeni Middle School was built, more than 20 Juneau bears died because of their attraction to garbage. Several of these came from DZ’s surroundings. Local bear biologists felt that when students began attending the school, they should learn about proper disposal of garbage, to prevent bears from being attracted to the school area. They also wanted students to understand more about the food and habitat needs of bears, and how to act in the event of a bear encounter. This booklet tries to answer these and other questions. Underlying them is one which the Tlingit people have perhaps best answered: How can we be better neighbors to the bear?