Bear hunting is an important traditional and economic aspect of life in Alaska and with proper management can occur without jeopardizing populations. In most coastal areas brown bear hunting regulations are designed to maintain high bear densities and provide hunters with opportunities to pursue large bears. In many other parts of the state, bear hunting regulations are less stringent as managers strive to balance the numbers of bears with number of moose and caribou available for human hunters.
Alaska has an estimated 30,000 brown bears statewide. In 2007, about 1,900 brown bears were harvested in Alaska. Of that figure, about 700 were taken by Alaska residents and roughly 1,200 (or 67 percent) were taken by nonresidents. Bear hunting seasons are held in both spring and fall in some areas but only in fall in other areas. It is illegal to kill cubs and females with offspring. Nonresident brown bear hunters are required to have a guide or be accompanied by an Alaska resident who is a relative.
See Brown Bear Hunting for more information.
Bear viewing is another popular activity in Alaska and although it is often considered “non-consumptive”, it can have serious impacts on bear populations if it is not conducted properly. Most viewing occurs at places where bears congregate at concentrated food sources that are critical to their survival. If some bears avoid these areas because people are there, those bears may not get the fat and protein they need to make it through the upcoming winter. Managing human behavior around such areas is as important to the continued health of the bear population as is managing bear hunting.
See Brown and Black Bear Viewing for more information.