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Alaska Beat

Feeding Juneau bears causes ruckus -- and bad human behavior

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published June 21, 2012

Along the Glacier Highway north of Juneau, Alaska, two young black bears are getting a lot of attention. But state biologists think it may be too much.

The Juneau Empire reports the two adorable residents are often visible devouring dandelion and wild greenery along the well-traveled highway. However, the natural attraction has begun to cause a bit of a problem for motorists -- and, potentially, the bears. Enthusiasts slowing to watch the pair are causing traffic delays, congestion and in some cases, danger.

The Empire writes, "Onlookers have reported seeing cars and tour buses stopped in the middle of the highway or pulled over in an area with little or no shoulder. There have also been reports called in to officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game of individuals standing mere feet away from these feeding bears." And, in one case, vehicle occupants were reportedly attempting to feed the bears from their car window.

Naturally, this kind of behavior has biologists and other officials concerned for the safety of drivers, observers and the two bears. Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Ryan Scott wants to be very clear on one point: Under no circumstance should you feed a bear.

"If they (the yearling bears) are getting food, they will remember those lessons ... they'll start associating humans with food," he told the Empire. "It's absolutely illegal to feed the bears." He urges everyone to be respectful of wildlife and fellow drivers.

"If you're a diehard viewer, throw a pair of binoculars in your car. If you're a photographer, use a camera with a long lens or a good zoom," he said. And most importantly, make sure your vehicle is all the way off the road should you choose to stop.

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