Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle said he can hardly remember a summer where bear conflicts in the Anchorage area were so low — especially when you compare figures to the two summers prior.

”2019 was like being on vacation,” he said. “It's not that there weren’t any bear conflicts, we certainly did have a few and we had the occasional hot spot but it was no comparison to the previous two years."

The department keeps track of bears killed by authorities and bears killed by citizens in defense of life and property in Game Management Unit 14C, an area which mirrors the boundaries of the Municipality of Anchorage, including Chugach State Park.

In 2017, there were a total of 34 bears killed, including 31 black bears and three brown bears.

In 2018, 42 bears were killed, including 28 black bears and 14 brown bears.

In 2019, six bears were killed, including four black bears and two brown bears.

Battle said there is no study to explain why this summer’s numbers dropped but there are a few theories including an exceptional summer that meant there was plenty of food available in the wild.

“If there’s a lot of food for them to eat in the woods, they don’t have to come out and hit trash,” he said.  “Another thing is that there were a lot of bears killed in 2017 and 2018.”

Battle said it’s possible a majority of problem bears were killed, but he added that it would be easy for the numbers to turn around.

“They were getting into conflicts in the first place because of things that people did," he said. "So if the people don’t change their behavior, they're just going to continually make more conflict bears.”

Battle said he’s encouraged by a new ordinance that fines people who don’t handle their trash properly. That ordinance took effect in mid-June. Battle said it’s still a little early to say whether it made an impact this summer.

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