Story Map Offers Unique Insight into Lives of Anchorage’s Urban Bears
- ADF&G Press Release

Sam Cotten, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526

Press Release: April 28, 2015

Sean Farley, Ph.D., Research Biologist, (907) 267-2203
Tony Carnahan, Wildlife Biologist, (907) 267-2267
Elizabeth Manning, Education Associate, (907) 267-2168

Story Map Offers Unique Insight into Lives of Anchorage’s Urban Bears

(Anchorage) – It’s no secret that bears—black bears and brown bears—live and thrive among the crowded neighborhoods and busy traffic of Alaska’s largest city. The question is how do they do it?

You’d have to see it to believe it. And now you can, thanks to the Anchorage Urban Bear Story Map, product of an innovative study by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game involving collar-mounted GPS and video cameras placed on nine bears—six black bears and three brown bears—in the summers of 2012 and 2013.

The Anchorage Urban Bear Story Map is an interactive application that allows Internet users to not only observe the movements of the bears collared in the study, but to watch and listen to video clips recorded as the bears traveled.

“The camera-collar study with its GPS data and video footage is really providing some unique insight into the lives of Anchorage’s urban bears,” said wildlife research biologist Dr. Sean Farley.

The study’s technology worked well Farley said, with the collar-mounted cameras providing clips showing where the bears traveled, what they ate, and how they partitioned their days between traveling, eating, and resting.

Data in the story map reveal that bears have access to plenty of natural foods in Anchorage. Unfortunately bears also have easy and constant access to foods left out by humans, such as garbage, birdseed, pet food and more. Inevitably, easy access to human food leads to increased human-bear conflicts.

Study highlights include the ranging travels of one young male black bear that walked at low tide from Anchorage to Fire Island where it encountered—and struck up a surprising association with—a sub-adult brown bear. Another of the study’s black bears, now the mother of four yearling cubs, has recently become well-known in the news for issues related to her regular visits to the city’s Government Hill neighborhood to feed on unsecured trash.

A collaborative effort between research, management and education staff, the project is helping to provide a better understanding of the habits of Anchorage’s urban bears. The data will help guide the department’s urban bear management efforts as well as educate the public about bears. See the Anchorage Urban Bear Story Map at

For more information, contact Sean Farley at 267-2203.