Copper River Dipnetting Crowds Encounter Bears at Popular Campground
— ADF&G Press Release

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

Press Release: June 23, 2017

Contact: Frank Robbins, Area Wildlife Biologist, Glennallen, (907) 822-3461

Copper River Dipnetting Crowds Encounter Bears at Popular Campground

(Chitina) — Personal-use dipnetters camping and staging at the popular O'Brien Creek Campground to scoop up Copper River salmon are reminded they aren't the area's only fishers. Brown bears are in the area, too, and that's perfectly normal. But recent sightings, combined with news lately of two fatal bear attacks on humans elsewhere in Alaska, have some campers on edge.

"We have a sow grizzly with two yearling cubs hanging around the campground," said Frank Robbins, Glennallen area wildlife biologist. "She was there last year and probably in prior years, too. For the most part she seems to be staying on the south side of the creek away from the campground and hasn't shown any overt signs of aggression."

Robbins said the bears have not been getting into trash or camps and he believes they are drawn to the area by fish waste left in the shallows and along the banks of O'Brien Creek. He offers the following suggestions to prevent food-conditioning bears and avoid human-bear conflicts:

  • Dipnetters who clean fish on site are encouraged to chop fish carcasses into numerous pieces and throw them into the fast-moving Copper River, not O'Brien Creek.
  • Avoid camping close to the creek; streambanks are natural travel corridors for bears.
  • Keep a clean camp. Do not leave trash out or food in tents where bears can access.
  • Be bear aware. For more information on living with bears, see .

O'Brien Creek campers and fishers are asked to report aggressive bear behavior immediately to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Glennallen at (907) 822-3461, or to Alaska Wildlife Troopers (907) 822-3263. To report an immediate public safety concern, dial 9-1-1.