Forest Service honors Anan bears with unique awards

The U.S. Forest Service spent last week showing that the wildlife at Anan Creek aren't your average bears.

From the chilliest to the chunkiest, the inaugural Anan Bear Awards were posted via Facebook from Oct. 3 to Oct. 7, honoring nine bears for their unique personalities.

Paul Robbins, public affairs officer for the Tongass National Forest, said the awards are modeled after the Katmai National Park and Preserve's Fat Bear Week held at the same time. In that event, National Park Service rangers put the bears' names into brackets like March Madness, and the public votes for their favorites.

For the Anan Bear Awards, the Forest Service office in Juneau is taking the photos and videos sent to them by the staff that works at Anan and creating awards based on individual bear personalities.

Robbins said they liked the idea of Katmai's Fat Bear Week but wanted to highlight the experience of "Anan and what a great site it is. We wanted to bring Anan to them (the public) since they can't all come to it."

The Facebook posts have proven to be more popular than most, Robbins said, getting a lot of reactions, shares and engagement. "We absolutely encourage staff to get content with the phones or cameras so people can see what's going on."

Bears at Anan are known to have diverse personalities, which one way staff gets to know them, according to Tory Houser, staff officer with the Forest Service in Wrangell. "These guys (staff) are out there watching these bears all season. They have their own personalities - bearalities. They do these interesting things and (the awards are) an opportunity to bring those forward."

It's also an opportunity for the Forest Service to educate the public, said Joe Delabrue, wildlife biologist for the agency in Wrangell.

"Personality traits of bears are similar to humans," he said. "They can be fearful, joyful, playful, social."

Delabrue said there are differences not only personalities, but in species as well. Brown bears are more aggressive, he said, and less willing to flee from threats. "At Anan, you can definitely see some differences in personality," he said. "Some bears tend to be more shy, while others are social and regularly come up to the deck. Some bears can be more stubborn than others by not wanting to move off the trail."

Delabrue said the quirkiest thing he's seen a black bear do is break a log loose and roll down a small hillside with it.

Some of the recipients of last week's awards were Scuba Sue, Twerp, Baloo Impersonator and one Houser said they lovingly refer to as "Circle Bear."

The week kicked off with Circle Bear receiving the award for fattest bear in honor of Fat Bear Week.

"Bears of the same species grow to different sizes and weights depending on quantity and quality of food," the Forest Service posted on Facebook with a photo of a black bear that was indeed very circular.

"The black and brown bears at Anan don't reach the size of bears at Katmai National Park and Preserve, but the food sources our forest provides are just as important to them. Tongass National Forest fishery and habitat specialists work constantly to protect and improve the watersheds and ecosystems that make us the 'Salmon Forest.'"

Scuba Sue received an award for best fishing style since she submerges herself. The post for her award pointed out that most bears do not like to get their ears wet. Twerp was awarded as the cutest bear and Baloo Impersonator was awarded as most chill bear. Baloo is a character from Rudyard Kilping's children's book, "The Jungle Story."

Approximately 40 to 60 black bears and 12 brown bears have been documented coming to Anan Creek to feed each season.

The awards and recipients this year are:

- Fattest bear: Circle Bear

- Best fishing style: Scuba Sue

- Cutest bear: Twerp

- Most chill bear: Baloo Impersonator

- Saddest bear: Too Early Black Bear

- Worst fisherman: Volverine

- Best mama bear: Brown Bear Mom

- Safety first: Cautious Black Bear

- Laziest bear: Brown Bear Cub


Reader Comments(0)