Alaska bears are the animals that most visitors want to see. Although they are plentiful in the state, Alaska is huge and has many remote wilderness areas. Bears are elusive. They are almost always solitary and they rarely frequent populated areas. There are some places in Canada and the northwest United States where bears might hang around tourist areas and towns because of available trash. Since bears can be both unpredictable and dangerous, it is important that you follow strict guidelines in disposing of your trash and garbage. When camping, it is advisable to have your food stored in a well-sealed container that hangs high in a tree away from your tent. Bear safety is an important part of daily life for Alaskans, and they learn about from an early age. Anyone who plans on venturing out in Alaska should learn basic bear aware safety tips.
Alaskan bears include all three species of North American bear. These are the black bear, brown bear (including the Kodiak bear and grizzly), and polar bear. While many refer to all brown bears along the coast as Kodiak bears, this bear is found only on the islands of the Kodiak archipelago in the southwestern part of the state. The Kodiak is the largest of the brown bear subspecies, larger even than the grizzly. Bears are prime targets for trophy hunters in the state, and hunting is strictly regulated in order to preserve the balance of bear population. Those who come for bear hunting will often be hunting other trophy animals, such as moose.
Even bear viewing can have negative impact on bear populations. Since the best bear viewing locations are where food is found (i.e. salmon in rivers), bears might avoid these areas if people are present meaning they are apt not to get the protein and fat they require to last through the winter. Therefore, even bear viewing is strictly managed. In addition to the Kodiak archipelago (especially on the Frazer River), other prime areas for brown bears are McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge and Katmai National Park and Preserve. Black bears are spread throughout the state, and polar bears are found in the far northern Arctic area.