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Painted Bears found in Alaska

Bears in Alaska Frameworx

Colorful bear statues spring up in Alaska’s largest city

      • By DAN JOLING Associated Press
      • Updated
Painted Bears in Alaska Frameworxart.com

Painted Bears in Alaska Frameworxart.com

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s largest city is home to more than 300 grizzly and black bears and now more than a dozen multicolored ones.

Life-size bear states painted by city artists, part of “Bears on Parade,” are popping up as they’re completed. They’re part of a continuing effort to raise awareness that if you live in Anchorage, you live near bears.

“The whole point of this was to engage in conversation about bears and their habitat — the food that they eat, where they live,” said Brenda Carlson, who helped organize the program

Carlson is visitor services director for Visit Anchorage, the city tourism marketing group. She’s also a member of the state Department of Fish and Game’s Anchorage Bear Committee, dedicated to bear conservation in the municipality.

The city covers 1,958 square miles but people occupy only about 204 square miles, according to the department. The rest of the city includes national forest, a state wildlife refuge, 55 to 65 grizzlies and 250 to 350 black bears.

Bears in Alaska Picture Framing Virginia Beach

Bears in Alaska Picture Framing Virginia Beach

Bears can be deadly if they’re surprised. To minimize maulings, the committee tries to educate people about how to live with bears.

“Not all bears eat salmon,” Carlson said. “Some eat berries, depending on where they are. We really wanted it to spark conversation about the bears.”

The committee also wanted to coordinate the statues’ installation with a summer conference of 700 international bear scientists brought to Anchorage by the International Association for Bear Research & Management.

Carlson reached out to America’s Fiberglass Animals of Seward, Nebraska, which has helped create more than 300 public art projects with fiberglass sculptures.

Fifteen bears arrived by flatbed truck looking like polar bears — completely white. Sponsors paid either $1,750 or $3,000 for bears. So far 13 have been painted, sealed and erected.

Artists received loose instructions. The adornment had to be family friendly and reflect the beauty of Alaska, Carlson said. One bear has a birch forest painted on its side. Others are painted with rivers, wildflowers or northern lights. A bear sponsored by an ice cream shop added a tongue that appears to be licking ice cream off the bear’s face.

“I love that tongue,” Carlson said, and it could fit into the theme of what a bear should not eat — human food.

“Make sure your trash is put away, because that trash bear will be a problem,” she said.

The statues arrived too late for the early summer bear conference but some scientists will benefit. The committee is donating nearly $8,000 from statue sponsorships to the next bear conference for scientists’ expenses.

Bears in Alaska Frameworx

Bears in Alaska Frameworx

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