Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Biologist to speak at 2nd bear fest


The second annual Haines Celebration of Bears, an educational effort aimed at protecting bears by educating people, will include programs for youths and adults at five locations around town Aug. 21-22.

Thee free weekend of activities is sponsored by the Haines-based Alaska Chilkoot Bear Foundation.

Tania Lewis, a wildlife biologist for Glacier Bay National Park, will give the keynote speech “Brown and Black Bears in the Rapidly Changing Landscape of Northern Southeast,” on Friday, Aug. 21, at the fairgrounds’ Harriett Hall.

Her talk will include information on the repopulation of the park and the Chilkat Valley by bears after the Little Ice Age, said Ann Puffer, local organizer of the bear festival and a member of the bear foundation board.

Lewis has studied bears in the park since 2001 and wrote the park’s bear management plan in 2008. She’s currently conducting three research projects, including on bear distribution in the park, genetics and disturbance of bears by vessels.

Friday’s events will include children’s bear stories at the public library. A Chilkat Dancers’ performance, potluck dinner and Bear Improv are scheduled around Lewis’ talk at Harriett Hall.

The festival’s day-long schedule Saturday includes activities and talks at the Haines ANB Hall, demonstrations at Tlingit Park on using bear deterrents like pepper spray, electric fences and “critter gitters,” and movies in the Senior Center about bears. Also, Lewis, who plays banjo, will lead a sing-a-long at noon.

“Bears can be a contentious issue here,” Puffer said. “We’re just trying to get more information out there, especially for kids.”

The festival roughly coincides with the fall “bear season” at Chilkoot, when brown bears congregate around the river and lake there to gorge themselves on pink salmon.

Bear sightings have been thin because only one mature, female bear and two cubs have been active along the river, Puffer said. The sow, nicknamed “Speedy,” is tagged #235. Other bears have been seen at Chilkoot Lake and along Lutak Inlet beaches, she said.


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