From Selawik to Sheshalik, to Noorvik, Kiana and Ambler, residents in Northwest Alaska are reporting their remote cabins have been raided by roaming brown bears. While bear break-ins in the region are not uncommon (last year there were about a dozen), Alaska Department of Fish and Game Kotzebue area wildlife biologist Jim Dau said he’s hearing of more -- and more widespread -- than usual.
The uptick in break-ins appears to be related to several factors. Dau said anecdotally the brown bear population in Northwest Alaska appears to be rising. Berries aren’t great in the region this year, and Dau said that’s forcing bears toward chum salmon-heavy waterways, including rivers and the coast. That’s also where most people have subsistence-use cabins.
Dau said bears are intelligent creatures. Once they break into one cabin with food, it becomes a learned behavior that's impossible to change.