When Grizzlies Awake
from hibernation

they are Hungry

An article from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

WARNING-- A sign warns visitors at the Quartz Lake boat launch area Monday afternoon of a grizzly bear. Campers and fishermen were harassed by a young grizzly bear Saturday and Sunday near the launch. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists have placed a live trap at the Lost Lake campgound near where the bear is believed to be.

Bear steals fish, chases Quartz anglers

Staff Writer

Every fisherman has a tale about the big one that got away, but some anglers at Quartz Lake last weekend were telling stories about the ones that got taken away.

A young grizzly bear reportedly chased several fishermen off the ice Saturday at the lake about 80 miles southeast of Fairbanks and proceeded to swipe the fish that had been stashed in plastic buckets, leaving the anglers with nothing but some good photos and one heckuva a fish story.

There won't be a happy ending to the story, however. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is hoping to catch the bear so it can be killed.

"He's habituated; he knows that's a food source," said wildlife technician Dave Davenport with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Delta Junction. "Unfortunately his days are numbered."

Fish and Game biologists set a live trap Monday at Lost Lake, about a half mile from Quartz Lake. Biologists say the bear is a 2-year-old male weighing about 200 pounds, give or take a few rainbow trout.

As an encore to the Saturday performance, the bear returned on Sunday and again chased some fishermen away from their gear, this time near the shore next to the campground. Out-of-state campers caught the scene on videotape.

"I watched it walk right up to where some guys had been fishing, and it was pulling stuff out of the five-gallon buckets they had left," said parks ranger Brooks Ludwig. "I saw it take one guy's shrimp. I don't know how many fish he got."

Biologists have no choice but to kill the bear, Davenport said.

"He's shown no fear of people," Davenport said. "With the amount of activity we have there, it's just not a good safe setting."

Fishermen tried using ice augers to scare the bear off, but it didn't budge. Warning shots fired Sunday by some other fishermen chased the bear away for only an hour or two.

The bear also reportedly bluff-charged at least one person who was trying to get a photo of the bear.

"We had one guy out there who tried to get a Kodak moment and it almost turned into Kodiak moment," Davenport said, referring to the Alaska island famous for its encounters between humans and big bears. "The bear stood up and woofed at him and then dropped down and false-charged him."

Fish and Game received the first report of the bear on Saturday. But the bear showed up at least a day or two before that, according to anglers and campers interviewed by Davenport.

"He's been there every day for the last three or four days," Davenport said Monday.

The bear's arrival coincided with the peak fishing time at Quartz Lake, a popular spring rendezvous for fishermen pursuing robust rainbow trout, which move in close to shore around the boat launch and campground each spring to go through spawning motions.

There were 30 people fishing on the ice Sunday when Davenport surveyed the area and as many, if not more, were there on Saturday.

In addition to posting large signs alerting fishermen and campers of an aggressive bear in the area, state parks on Monday closed the Lost Lake campground and the two-mile Quartz Lake Loop Trail, which leads to the Glathfelter cabin, a public use cabin about a half mile from the parking lot and campground.

Davenport said other bears have been seen in the area this spring. A sow grizzly with a cub was reported crossing the dirt road leading into Quartz Lake, he said.

Biologists used beaver castor, bread soaked in pineapple juice, mayonnaise and Limburger cheese, among other smelly items, to lure the bear to the trap at Lost Lake. The trap resembles a big aluminum culvert with air holes and a door.

If the bear can't be trapped and doesn't move on, Fish and Game will explore other options, such as having a hunter kill it, Davenport said.

State parks prohibits shooting within a half mile of the Quartz and Lost lake campgrounds, but those regulations can be waived in a situation like this, said Ludwig, the park ranger.

Moving the bear isn't a real option because the bear would have to be moved at least 100 miles, which would probably require using a helicopter, Davenport said.

"It's not really cost effective to do that," he said. "If it was a female with a cub, that might be different."

Quartz Lake will remain open to fishing and camping. But Anna Plager, State Parks northern region superintendent, urged fishermen to stay away until the bear is removed.

"I don't want people going down there until we clear this up," she said. "It's not safe."

2000 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.

May 9, 2000

For Real Player video of "Garbage Bears" see the State of Alaska, on line video.

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