Warning: Bears aren't hibernating yet

Michelle Theriault Boots

A reminder: Anchorage bears aren't hibernating yet.

August and September were relatively quiet months for bear-human encounters in Anchorage, said Jessy Coltrane, an area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

But in recent weeks "there's been a resurgence of bear incidents surrounding unsecured trash cans."

Young brown bears were getting into unsecured trash cans left out overnight in the Rabbit Creek area, said Dave Battle, also a wildlife biologist with Fish and Game. Those bears haven't been seen for a week or so.

In an Eagle River neighborhood near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, black bears feasted on trash in unsecured cans, Battle said.

None of the trash-gorging has resulted in a close encounter with a human or a bear having to be shot, he said.

But people -- especially those who live near big patches of woods such as military bases or Chugach State Park -- need to vigilant even in late fall.

Some people assume bears are no longer on the prowl for food by late October. That's not true.

"Bears haven't gone into their dens yet, and probably won't for a few weeks," Coltrane said.

Bears hibernate when they run out of food sources, Battle said. Weather is not the only factor.

Resist the urge to put out birdseed until after Thanksgiving, Coltrane said.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.