Deer Hunters May be Seeing More Bears This Year

Lisa Hupp/USFWS

Mitch Borden/KMXT

Deer Hunters on Kodiak Island need to be careful of bears this season. That’s because this year there’s a shortage of berries Kodiak brown bears depend on for food. This includes salmon berries and elderberries.


Bill Pyle, supervisory wildlife biologist for the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, says this lack of food will affect how bears act.

“They range more widely. They’re looking for alternative sources of food, and they can tend to be more aggressive.”

There’s a lot of things hunters can do to prepare. Such as using electrical fences around campsites, storing food and meat in containers that prevent odors from escaping, and hunting with a buddy.

If a hunter is lucky enough to bag a deer, it’s really important to keep a look out. For some bears, a gunshot means there’s a fresh deer carcass and they’ll be drawn to the sound. Pyle says hunters shouldn’t act rashly if a bear confronts them.

“You have a bear walking up to you while you’re field dressing a deer, you need to back off and just let the bear have the deer. You’re just sacrificing that animal to the deer.”

It’s legal for anyone to kill a bear to protect themselves or their property, but Pyle says hunters shouldn’t think they can legally fight a bear to keep their trophy.

“Defense of a carcass is not a legitimate reason to kill a bear under defense of life and property.”

Pyle isn’t sure how berry crops on other islands in the Kodiak archipelago have fared this year. He can only predict how bears will act on Kodiak island.


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