KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Alaska residents need to prepare for bears emerging from winter hibernation, a state wildlife official warned.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Ross Dorendorf said bears are normally expected to wake from hibernation in March or April, The Ketchikan Daily News reported Wednesday.
Bears may seek food from trash cans or other man-made situations when natural sources run low, said Dorendorf, who is is responsible for oversight of the Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island and Hyder areas.
“If the berries change or if the salmon change, it could be an increase or a decrease in the amount of activity we see here in town,” he said. “Because when there is a food shortage for bears, they will come in and try to get to those easier food sources.”
The first bears to emerge from hibernation are generally males, followed by females without cubs and then female bears with cubs, Dorendorf said.
“Bears are starting to wake up and folks need to start thinking about how they’re going to secure their trash,” Dorendorf said, adding that residents should try to limit items that may attract the animals.
Using straps on dumpsters and trash cans can help keep bears away. Residents should also use their community solid waste facilities, he said.
“That’s probably the most important one, because so many people have trash that, in one way or another, may be available to bears at this point in the year,” Dorendorf said.
Dorendorf also recommended installing electric fences or similar barriers to prevent bear attacks on livestock.
The bears may be lethargic as they emerge in the coming month, Dorendorf said, a condition that could last about two weeks.
“They’re kind of at an interesting time in their life cycle right now,” Dorendorf said. “When they come out of hibernation, they go into what’s called walking hibernation.”
The animals initially will not eat a lot, but after a couple of weeks “they kind of spring back to and are up and at it,” he said.