Bear reports down, but too soon to say if bears are heading to hills to den up


Cooler weather, but still too soon to say if bears are denning up.

One-third of male Kodiak bears don’t den up at all in winter.


The weather in Kodiak feels more like late fall, and there have been fewer reports of bears about town, but it’s still too early to say whether or not local bears have begun denning up for winter.

That’s according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Biologist Nathan Svoboda, one of Kodiak’s bear experts.

Kodiak Brown Bear from Wikipedia. Credit: By Yathin S Krishnappa Own work CC BY SA 3.0

“The last couple days I’ve received fewer bear observation reports, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot. It could mean one of two things. Either, indeed, the bears are not showing up in town as much, or people just aren’t reporting it as regularly as they were. So it’s kind of hard to determine which the situation is. Temperature has gotten a little big colder and windier so I’m hoping that some of these bears have moved up to the higher elevations to start denning, but we just really don’t know that yet. It’s kind of too early to tell.”


Svoboda used Monday’s numbers to put the recent drop in observations into perspective.


“For example, I only got one bear observation report, when normally I get 10 to 12 a day.”


Svoboda says even if bears are beginning to den up, Kodiak residents need to continue to be bear aware—all through the winter.


“Regardless of whether bears are coming into town right now or not people still need to be vigilant in handling their trash properly. You know, bears on Kodiak, we’ve found, some of our previous research has shown that about 30 percent of male bears don’t den at all. So, you know, there’s a real possibility that bears are out all year round, so it’s important that folks still remain vigilant with their trash and handle it appropriately.”


Svoboda added that he has reached out to members of the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and the borough mayor about getting rid of roll carts, which he sees as a big part of the bear problem in the areas where roll carts are used for trash pickup.

The use of roll carts for trash pickup has been controversial since it was first mentioned years ago as a possibility for making trash collection more efficient.


CLICK HERE to go to ADF&G’s bear page for more info on Kodiak Brown Bears.

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