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Bear Safety Tips for Alaskan Wildlife Adventures

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If you're spending time with us at Pybus Point Lodge, one of numerous activities you might be taking part in is our incredible Alaskan wildlife tours. These intimate tours allow you to get a look at some of the most amazing wildlife in the entire world, from humpback whales to numerous land animals -- including all three species of North American bear.

Bears are majestic, powerful creatures that occupy nearly every corner of Alaska, and treating them with respect and caution is vital for any wildlife tour where you may be encountering them, even from a distance. While our wildlife tour guides will be sure to give you several important safety recommendations before your excursion begins, here are some basic pieces of information on Alaskan bears and the proper safety themes to be keeping in mind in any situation where you may encounter them.

Species of Bear in Alaska

As we touched on above, Alaska is home to all three species of bears found in North America: Black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears. Here's a brief primer on each:

  • Black bears: Black bears are the smallest and most common type of bear in Alaska, found in wooded areas throughout the state. They typically weigh between 150-250 pounds, and while they can be aggressive when threatened, they are not typically known to be as dangerous as grizzlies or polar bears.
  • Grizzly bears: Grizzly bears are the largest type of bear in Alaska, and are found in the Interior and Southcentral regions of the state. Grizzlies can weigh up to 800 pounds and are known for their aggressive behavior when threatened.
  • Polar bears: Polar bears are found only in the Arctic region of Alaska, and are among the largest types of bear in the world. They typically weigh between 600-1,500 pounds and are known for their extremely aggressive behavior when threatened.

While encounters with black bears and grizzly bears are common, it's important to remember that you're in the home territory of the polar bear when venturing into areas north of the Arctic Circle. While you're not likely to come into contact with a polar bear, it's vital that you keep an extremely low profile just in case.

Hibernating Bears

One important aspect of Alaskan wildlife tours is learning about hibernation patterns for each species of animal. In the wintertime, bears retreat from common areas and seek shelter in dens to "hibernate" until the warmer months arrive. This hibernation period is essential for them: if they remained active through the cold winter months, their bodies would begin to break down and fail due to lack of sustenance (typically fat reserves).

It's this hibernation process that presents a primary hazard when viewing Alaskan bears. You may be in an area where bears are hibernating and not know it, as many dens are well-concealed and not easily detectable. If you're in an area with known bear dens and see or hear signs of animals coming out of hibernation (e.g., movement, scratching around den entrances), it's important to keep your distance and leave the area.

Hibernating animals are typically not active, but they can be startled awake, which will cause them to become defensive. Even if you're hundreds of feet away, a startled bear could decide that you look like a threat or an encroachment on their territory -- and that's when things have the potential to turn dangerous.

General Bear Awareness

No matter which part of Alaska you're in, there are some general bear awareness tactics to keep in mind if you're out in the wild. These include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: This includes knowing where bear dens are, being aware of what types of vegetation and trees attract bears (e.g., berries, berry bushes), and limiting noise so you don't startle any animals that may be close by.
  • Avoid areas with fresh scat: Bears often mark their territory by leaving piles of scat, which is a telltale sign you're in an area they frequent. While your wildlife tour guide will generally keep you away from these areas, be careful if you leave the lodge on your own for any reason.
  • Be cautious when travelling near waterways: Bears are often drawn to water sources, as they can be a source of food (e.g., salmon) and a place to cool down on hot days.
  • Never approach a bear: As we mentioned before, bears can be extremely dangerous when threatened. If you happen to see one nearby, do not approach it and do not do anything that may startle it. If you have a camera or binoculars, keep them pointed at the bear and use them to maintain a safe distance.
  • Never feed a bear, even from afar: Even if you think leaving food for a bear near one of their common areas might be nice, it's actually extremely dangerous for you and the bear. Bears that are fed by humans become habituated, meaning their behavior will change (and not in a good way). They become conditioned to wait for human "handouts" rather than seeking out natural sources of food -- which can lead them into dangerous situations around humans or at campsites.

Importance of Relying on Our Guides

As we noted above, our wildlife tour guides are experienced in every part of the ecosystem, including the most common locations for bears and how to avoid any risks while enjoying the area. It's important that you lean on our professional staff when it comes to overall bear safety, especially if you're looking to leave the lodge for any kind of unguided tour.

While our guides will always do their best to keep you safe, it's important that you follow all of their bear safety tips as well. This includes keeping a respectful distance from any animals, not approaching them for photos or other reasons, and never feeding them.

For more on bear safety while in Alaska, or to learn about any of our wildlife tours, guided fishing trips or other activities, speak to the staff at Pybus Point Lodge today.

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REVIEWS

65% OF OUR GUESTS ARE RETURN CUSTOMERS

Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, Pybus Point Lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable all-inclusive fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery.    I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.

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