99% of Bear Encounters Take Place Without You Ever Knowing the Bear Was There

99% of human/bear encounters take place without the human ever knowing there was a bear nearby. A friend of mine who guides raft trips down Alaska’s wild Copper River makes that claim, and I suspect it is true. Bears generally don’t want anything to do with people and they lay low when we wander by.

This weekend, Milo and I went walking in the Chugach State Park just outside of Anchorage.  We were on some well-travelled trails no more than 15 minutes from town with plenty of footprints and bike tire treads in the mud.

There was also bear scat.

Milo and the Bear Scat (Sounds like a children's book)

And bear tracks.

68-pound dog's paw next to bear track

Alaska has 98% of America’s brown bear population. There really isn’t much risk.  Bears aren’t looking for trouble.  You are more likely to get hit by a car driving to work then to get hurt by a bear.

A path through the spruce on the way to treeline in Chugach State Park

But it stirs the blood to know that there are wild things in the woods. You tend to pay a little more attention to the world, and to feel lucky to be a part of it. If  I hadn’t seen the bear sign, I might not have been paying enough attention to see the flock of ptarmigan in the spruce next to the trail five minutes later.

Wildlife of all kinds can help us notice the world, and it is one of the many good reasons to ensure that we pass on those experiences to the next generation by getting them outdoors and by protecting the wildlife we have.

Learn more about bears and  more ways to help connect your family to nature and the world. And tell us how the presence of wildlife, from bears to birds to armadillos (to choose an animal at random), enriches your world.

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