Know the Bear Necessities
Alaska is home to three species of North American bears. While you won’t be seeing a polar bear along Alaska’s highways, you may encounter a grizzly or black bear.
Alaskan bears wear coats of many colors. Grizzly bears range from blonde to almost black. Black bears can be grey, red or brown. There are also Glacier bears, a blue-grey black bear colored to be better disguised while on glacial ice.
Bears spend most of their time eating or looking for food to eat. Bears seen along roadways are usually looking for tasty vegetation that comprises about 90 per cent of their diet. Don’t let them learn that human food or garbage is an easy meal. Never feed a bear. Keep your campsite clean at all times!
Safety when roadside bear viewing
Traffic safety comes first. Pull over only if it is safe to do so. Be sure you aren’t blocking traffic and be aware that some roads have soft shoulders. Also ensure other vehicles can see you over a hill or around a corner in plenty of time to avoid a collision.
If the bear stays around and doesn’t mind being watched, keep your doors closed and stay in the vehicle. Open the window just enough to take pictures.
Most bears will try to avoid humans. Try not to surprise a bear; always make your presence known. Talk loudly while hiking and shout out frequently. Don’t pack smelly food for your meals. Pack out your garbage too.
If you see a bear that is far away or doesn’t see you, turn around a go back. If you come across a bear that is close or it does see you, stay calm. Do NOT turn and run! Instead, stand tall, wave your arms, and speak with authority.