Several McGrath Bears Return Home

Alaska / Juneau Empire / June 23, 2003


FAIRBANKS - Several bears moved as part of a predator control experiment near McGrath a little over a month ago have returned home, and at least four are within sniffing distance, a state biologist said.

"They're making their way back," said biologist Mark Keech with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks.

The state spent $60,000 to capture and relocate 90 bears from a 520-square mile area surrounding McGrath during a three-week period in May in an attempt to increase the survival of newborn moose calves.

Studies have shown that bears kill more newborn moose calves than wolves.

Biologists have been monitoring the movements of 23 bears that biologists fitted with radio collars and four of those bears have returned to the area from which they were moved.

Two more were within 15 miles of home, or as Keech put it, "within a day's walk if they want."

Given the fact that there were another 67 bears without collars, chances are good that some of those bears have also returned, Keech said.

The bears were dropped off at remote airstrips in the Interior between 160 and 215 miles from where they were captured. Three of the four bears that returned were deposited at different airstrips, proving what biologists suspected all along - the bears would try to make their way back home.

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