Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
June 2016

Bears of the World 2016
“It’s Not Just For Scientists”

By Elizabeth Manning
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A pair of young brown bears at Port Armstrong. Phil Mooney photo.

This month, hundreds of bear professionals from around the globe will gather in Anchorage to share research and discuss the conservation of bears on an international level.

Scientific conferences are important for professionals to connect and learn from each other. But this event, the 24th International Conference on Bear Research and Management, aims for greater inclusion. The organizers want members of the public to become engaged, excited and knowledgeable about bears too.

With that in mind, the conference has included a wide variety of public programming. There will even be an art exhibit hosted concurrently with the conference, and a “Parade of Bears” arriving in Anchorage later this month. These fiberglass bear forms are similar to the “Parade of Salmon” that came to Anchorage a few years back. Businesses and organizations will sponsor the bear forms, which will be decorated in whimsical ways by local artists and exhibited around Anchorage.

On Monday through Wednesday, June 13 to 15, the evening lectures during the conference are free and open to the public. The speakers include some of the top experts in the bear world, plus popular public speakers such as cultural anthropologist and radio host Richard Nelson.

Public lecture topics range from international bear conservation and Alaska Native insights into bears to human-bear conflicts and a personal account by author Dan Bigley of his recovery following a brown bear mauling in 2003. The lectures run from 7-9 pm but the public is invited to come as early as 5:30 pm for more public programs – try out bear spray, learn about electric fencing, play the “Bear Country Passport” game with your kids or peruse a book sale featuring bear books.

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Sibling brown bears playing Phil Mooney photo.

The bear conference offers a wealth of opportunities to learn or reflect about our world’s eight bear species. Better yet, most of the events are free.

Here’s the lineup – check your calendars!

Thursday, June 9: Bear Stories at the Bear Tooth, Bear Tooth Theatrepub, 8:30 pm

Come enjoy fascinating bear tales told by bear professionals and members of the public. Hosted by IBA with help from Arctic Entries volunteers and Bear Tooth Theatrepub; music by Todd Grebe & Cold Country. Tickets via Bear Tooth.

Monday, June 13 – Wednesday, June 15: Public Programs, Dena’ina Center and the Delaney Park Strip

  • Bear Aware Clinic, 2-3 pm (Tuesday, June 14 only): Learn the basics of bear safety from Anchorage Bear Committee educators, and watch the DVD, “Staying Safe in Bear Country.”
  • Bear Spray Demonstration, 5:30-6:30pm: Come early for a bear spray demonstration on the Delaney Park Strip, 9th Avenue and G Street. Hosted by the National Outdoor Leadership School.
  • Bear Aware Information, 5:30-7 pm: Visit the Anchorage Bear Committee’s educational booth on the second floor of the Dena’ina Center and brush up on bear safety. Kids can play the “Bear Country Passport” game.
  • Bear Books for Sale, 5:30-9 pm: The Anchorage Museum is hosting a book sale of bear books, also on the second floor of the Dena’ina Center.

Monday, June 13: Public Lectures, Third Floor, Dena’ina Center, 7-9 pm

  • Richard Nelson: Cultural anthropologist, 7:00 pm “The Black Bear Knows Way More than You Do: Koyukon Indian Teachings about the Natural World”
  • Steve Amstrup: Chief scientist, Polar Bears International, 8:00 pm “From Bears to People, Connecting the Dots on Climate Change”

Tuesday, June 14: Public Lectures, Second Floor, Dena’ina Center, 7-9 pm

  • Dan Bigley: Survivor of bear attack and author, 7:00 pm “Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again After Being Blinded by a Bear”
  • John Hechtel: Retired bear biologist, 8:00 pm “Bear Attacks in Alaska: 35 Years Worth of Incidents and Insights”

Wednesday, June 15: Public Lectures, Second Floor, Dena’ina Center, 7-9 pm

  • Dave Garshelis: Wildlife Research Scientist from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 7:00 pm “The Four Least Known Bears of the World: What Have We Learned to Help Save Them?”
  • Hui Wan: International Panda Bear Researcher, 7:40 pm “The Comprehensive Approach by World Wildlife Fund to Tackle the Top Challenge of Wild Panda Protection”
  • Todd Atwood: Project Leader, U.S. Geological Survey Polar Bear Research Program, 8:20 pm “Altered States: Rapid Environmental Change and Fast Food Modify the Behavior of Polar Bears from Alaska’s Southern Beaufort Sea”

BEARS: Science & Art

  • Parade of Bears, Anchorage - A Public Art Display: The Anchorage Downtown Partnership brings Anchorage the “Parade of Bears.” Look for these artistically-decorated bears to start appearing around Anchorage businesses in June or July. Maps to locate the bears will be provided by Visit Anchorage.
  • International Gallery of Contemporary Art, Anchorage, Alaska: This contemporary gallery, located at 427 D Street downtown Anchorage, is hosting a special show of bear-inspired art throughout the month of June.
  • Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska: The museum’s family-friendly “Near the Bear” exhibit shows through July 4, and explores the “Arctic” and how it comes from a Greek word meaning “near the bear.” Admission fee.
  • Pratt Museum, Homer: The Pratt Museum in Homer is hosting, “Art and Science of Bears,” a special exhibit on bears from May 6 through July 31. Admission fee.

For More Information on the IBA

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