Discover Kodiak Blog

Kodiak Bear Safety

Written by: Posted on: December 31, 1969 at 7:00PMPosted in: Main Topic


People visiting Kodiak or who are new to the island have concerns about the big, intimidating Kodiak Bears ranging from safety while hiking in the wilderness to an irrational fear of going outside without a firearm for self-protection.  The first concern is legitimate while the second is highly unlikely to occur when stepping out your front door.

Whether hiking, hunting, fishing or bear viewing staying aware of your surroundings and using common sense should see you through your activity without any issues.


Bear Viewing

Bears are shy by nature and usually flee when they see people. But in some of Alaska's most popular bear-viewing areas, bears have learned humans aren't a problem, so they come back year after year. As long as humans behave responsibly, generations of bears will continue to return to the same spots for years of bear-viewing opportunities.

  • Find a knowledgeable guide.  Bear viewing is NOT dangerous when done correctly.  A good guide knows the individual bears well and can direct you in any situation that may come up.
  • Never feed the bears, either intentionally or accidentally. Bears that associate people with food often end up having to be destroyed.
  • Never try to get too close to a bear. Instead find a good spot near the action and use binoculars and telephoto lenses.
  • Remain with your group. If on your own stay on the trail or roadway, don’t stalk the bears.



Awareness of your surroundings and common sense are your best defense against Kodiak bears.

  • Don’t go it alone—there is safety in numbers.
  • Gut your kill and move it to an area with good visibility ASAP. It’s not a good idea to stick around close to the gut pile.
  • If you can’t carry the whole thing out at once then clearly mark your remaining kill so that it’s easily visible to you and others when you return. You don’t want to accidently stumble on a bear that beat you back to your remaining kill.
  • If a bear takes your kill he gets to keep it. It’s illegal to shoot a bear that it taking your kill. You may do so only if you feel your life is threatened.
  • Keep bloody clothing and materials away from your camp and tents. Burn smelly garbage.



Fish is a main staple of the bear’s diet. Their biggest concern in life is packing on weight as quickly as possible so they can make it through the winter, when they may go for months without eating at all.

  • Be aware and stay alert. Fish in an area with good visibility. You don’t want a bear accidently coming up on you from around the bend.
  • Don’t leave food lying around. Keep it in your vehicle or in a bear-proof container.
  • Don’t leave fish remains lying around. Return them to fast moving water. Bears have a great sense of smell.
  • If a bear enters the area you’re in cut your line and slowly pack your things & move away.


Camping & Hiking

  • Don’t set up next to the river or on a trail. Bears use the trails and you don’t want to be in the middle of their roadway.
  • Camp with other people. Don’t go off by yourself. Think, “Safety in numbers”.
  • Store food and garbage away from your tent and immediate campsite. Bears have an excellent sense of smell.
  • Burn whatever trash that you can. Store the rest of it away from your tent.
  • When hiking make noise. Bears are shy and will usually avoid you if they know you’re there.
  • If you see or smell a carcass while hiking stay clear of the area. Dead animals will bring bears to the area. This includes dead beached whales. Bears can protect food sources aggressively.
  • Never run when you see a bear. It may tempt them to chase you and they’re much faster than you are.  Bear pepper spray can be purchased at the local sporting goods store. If a bear gets too close it can be a good deterrent.
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