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Bear encounter on Rover's Run prompts warning

Casey Grove
This sign alerting people of high bear activity sits just before Rover's Run at Far North Bicentennial Park in Anchorage.

Wildlife officials are recommending people stay away from the Rover's Run trail in Far North Bicentennial Park after a brown bear charged a cyclist Tuesday.

The 3,700-foot trail comes close to Campbell Creek's south fork and is notorious for human-bear encounters this time of year, when salmon are present. Park advocates and the city plan to move it away from the creek next summer. Until then, a multitude of signs warn of the bruins lurking in the vegetation along Rover's Run.

Four women biking the trail had a close encounter Tuesday morning, said Dave Battle, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game. The first two passed by a bear in some bushes but did not see it, Battle said. The third woman spotted it, and it charged the fourth, he said.

"It was probably typical defensive behavior," Battle said. "Sometime brown bear behavior is to run away and sometimes it's to run at the person."

The woman jumped off her bike, got down low and put the bike between herself and the bear, Battle said. "The bear broke off the charge. It came within a couple feet."

No one was hurt, and it was just one incident in a mostly quiet bear season in Anchorage, Battle said. The trail remained open, but with extra warning signs.

Still, Rover's Run and other trails close to the salmon that bears eat are not places Battle recommends.

And according to the Anchorage Park Foundation, their organization and the city Parks and Recreation department, with the help of volunteers, hope to move the trail 200 feet away from the creek in 2014. The new route would add 400 feet onto Rover's Run, the Foundation says.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
casey.grove@adn.com