An Anchorage city park trail where two people were mauled by grizzly bears in 2008 was reopened Monday to the public.
The Rover's Run trail in Far North Bicentennial Park was unusually quiet this summer -- one summer after a girl riding in an all-night bike race and a middle-aged runner were seriously injured when attacked by grizzlies on the trail that runs along a salmon stream.
The decision was made in early June to close Rover's Run to the public this summer. It was reopened on the recommendation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which has been monitoring the problem-bear situation.
The number of bear tracks and scat along the trail indicate the bears are just about done with the stream as a favorite food source. But officials are still encouraging trail users to be on the lookout for bears.
"It is not a common practice of us to shut down a trail like that but given the reason that we had ... folks were pretty understanding," said Chris Conlon, recreation superintendent for the municipality of Anchorage.
Conlon said there are still a few salmon in the stream so people using the trail should use caution and employ tips in the "Bear Aware?" campaign, such as traveling in groups, making noise and staying on established trails.
"There is always a chance of an encounter but I think right now as long as people take the proper precautions there is a normal chance of an encounter," he said.
Last summer was anything but normal. There were three serious maulings in the sprawling municipality of Anchorage and numerous accounts of bears chasing and charging people. One man was slightly injured when a bear ran over the top of him.
Most of the problems were caused by a sow who felt strongly about defending her two cubs. Fish and Game officials killed the sow last August and placed the cubs at a zoo.
Closing the trail was not an issue for the Basher Community Council, said Mary Rosenzweig, the council's former vice chairman. Rosenzweig lives in the Stuckagain Heights neighborhood, which borders the 3,627-acre city park -- the size of some state parks in the Lower 48.
People in the community are more concerned with the building of new trails, Rosenzweig said.
"Generally, people think we should be avoiding bear corridors for safety reasons," she said.
A trail management plan for Far North Bicentennial Park is being worked on, Conlon said.
Rosenzweig came up with her own solution to keep bears out of her trash and moving through her 3-acre property. She puts all trash and garbage that smells of meat or fish in the freezer until trash pickup day.
"It works great," she said.