Research Symposium

        July 23rd - 27th 2014  WRANGELL,ALASKA
Wrangell BearFest 2013  July 24th through the 28th
Celebrating the Bears of Alaska

Contact Sylvia Ettefagh 907-874-2998 or for more informationmailto:sylvia@alaskabearfest.orgshapeimage_4_link_0


Jessica Setah, is a native researcher and educationalist. She is a member of the Xeni Gwet'in or Nemiah First Nation whose intact traditional territory includes a large core grizzly bear area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park, in the Chilcotin Region of British Columbia, of which about 46% is protected in parks. The Xeni  Gwet'in support the DNA monitoring of grizzly bears at the Chilko River sockeye spawning grounds and also do their own monitoring through collection of grizzly bear hair from mark trees & DNA analysis, counts of individuals, and formal habitat capability and use surveys; not to mention Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).  Recently their Xeni wildlife researchers have been involved in a federally funded Aboriginal Fund  species at risk (AFSAR) study that included grizzly bear field surveys including use of whitebark pine nuts, and this work will continue. The grizzly in the area is Federally listed and provincially threatened.

John D. Ward, Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) Spokesperson, has been deeply involved with developing  an historic agreement with the British Columbian government establishing land protection measures and shared management responsibility for their ancestral lands. The Wóoshtin Wudidaa (Flowing Together) Land Use Plan protects more than seven million acres from commercial logging and designates over two million acres as First Nation Conservancy Parks. In addition, the Taku River Tlingit and provincial government have agreed to a joint governing process, Wóoshtin Yan Too.aat (Walking Together), to guide future resource-related decisions. Brown bears have been a key concern throughout these processes. The TRTFN have partnered with Round River Conservation Studies to support research to estimate brown bear numbers and distribution, create a Conservation Area Design for their territory based in large part on grizzly bear habitat needs, and purchase the Sloko Outfitter- Guide license for their territory to restrict brown bear hunting.

Dr. Danielle Chi is the Natural Resources Director with the US Forest Service in Salt Lake City. She completed her doctoral research at Anan Creek in 1999 with Dr. Barrie Gilbert entitled: The Effects of Salmon Availability, Social Dynamics, and People on Black Bear Fishing Behavior on an Alaskan Salmon Stream. She will discuss her study and compare the conditions then with the situation now at Anan Wildlife Observatory.

Riley Woodford is a writer and producer for the Division of Wildlife Conservation at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Juneau. He has worked as a biologist, teacher, journalist and broadcaster. He writes and edits the ADF&G online magazine, Alaska Fish and Wildlife News, produces the Sounds Wild radio nature program, produces video and print publications, and helps organize and teach at programs such as hunter education, BioBlitz and Becoming an Outdoors Woman. He has documented black and brown bear research in Alaska and written a number of articles and delivered a variety of presentations about bears.

Dee Galla is the Outdoor Recreation Planner for Anan Wildlife Observatory with the Wrangell Ranger District, Tongass National Forest. She has been heavily involved in the Management Plan Update Environmental Assessment for the Anan Wildlife Observatory as well as trail reconstruction and replacement of the cabin at Berg Bay this year. The Management Plan Update is a ten-year review of the current visitor management practices at Anan Creek. It will examine new management strategies to address some important issues including the high commercial visitor demand and available access by non-commercial visitors. One proposal is to provide permits for half-day use rather than a full day. This will allow for more visitors per day but will not increase the maximum number present at the viewing platform at any one time.

Dr. Barrie K. Gilbert is a Senior Scientist (retired) at Utah State University. After receiving his B.A. in Biology from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, he earned a PhD in ecology at Duke University. His specialty is behavioral and conservation ecology, especially the application of behavioral science to management of human-wildlife interactions. Dr. Gilbert directed studies of human-bear interactions along salmon streams in Katmai National Park, AK, in Southeast Alaska, and in the coastal rainforests of British Columbia and has consulted for Canadian and U.S. federal, provincial and state agencies on forest wildlife conservation issues, grizzly bear responses to people, and habitat needs of bears. He worked with several students at Anan Creek during the early days of bear viewing. He is currently President of The Frontenac Stewardship Foundation and lives on Wolfe Island, Ontario.

Matthias Breiter is an internationally renowned and highly respected author, cinematographer and wildlife photographer. He is considered one of the world’s great authorities on bears. Holding an advanced degree in biology, he is presently completing his doctorate on aggression in bears at the University of Heidelberg. The author of thirteen books that have been translated into eight languages, he has appeared as a guest lecturer at the Smithsonian.  Matthias makes a yearly visit to Anan Creek to photograph and observe bears. Over a couple decades he has observed many changes in bear behavior as well as changes in human activity which he will discuss during this symposium. His award-winning nature photographs have appeared in National Geographic, GEO, BBC Wildlife, Terre Sauvage and numerous other publications worldwide. He has also worked as a cinematographer with the National Geographic Society, Discovery Channel and several other TV producers on documentaries both on polar bears and brown bears.

Harry Reynolds has over 40 years of experience working as a wildlife biologist, specializing in large mammals and primarily bears. His expertise includes developing bear population and habitat studies in Alaska and around the world. As one of the world's leading authorities on brown bears, Reynolds has been working in Mongolia as part of an international team to study the plight of the Gobi bears, a species of brown bear that exists in the Gobi Desert and is nearing extinction. He established the Gobi Bear Foundation to support conservation for Gobi Bears and other species in Mongolia. Reynolds is one of the most respected brown bear biologists in the world. He is the current Vice President for the Americas with the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), an organization that includes professional bear biologists from around the world dedicated to the conservation of all bear species.

Dr. Lance Craighead, is executive director of the Craighead Institute, an applied science and research organization that builds conservation solutions for people and wildlife in changing landscapes. Their mission is “to maintain healthy populations of native plants and animals along with human communities in sustainable, functioning ecosystems.” Lance completed his PhD on Conservation Genetics of Grizzly Bears at Montana State University; working with Harry Reynolds and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the Brooks Range. He lived in Wrangell in the early 80’s and conducted a moose study with ADFG on the Stikine River. His work now focuses on using focal species like bears and moose to plan conservation strategies and he is the co-editor of a new book: “Conservation Planning: Shaping the Future” published in February 2013 by Esri Press. He lives in Bozeman Montana but tries to visit Wrangell and Anan Creek every summer. He has also authored the book “Bears of the World” with Voyageur Press.

Amy Sherwin, During the eight years Amy Sherwin has been a naturalist at Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, the Forest Service’s Juneau recreation area has gained a reputation as one of Alaska’s most accessible black bear viewing areas. While the glacier has been the town’s greatest attraction for decades, it has only been in recent years that adequate habitat has grown to provide wild foods and habitat for black bears. With 400,000 annual visitors and 15-18 individual bears in close proximity, people-bear management is a key factor for all Mendenhall staff. Amy has been one of the leading interpreters of bear behavior and management. She has been a key participant in two Mendenhall bear studies: In 2008, she collected hair samples for a DNA mark-recapture population study conducted with Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In 2010, she assisted in tagging male and female cottonwood trees for a bear foraging study and is one of three co-authors with primary author Mary Willson. Black Bear Foraging on Black Cottonwood Catkins in Southeast Alaska was published in the Winter, 2012 edition of Northwestern Naturalist. Amy, whose B.S. is in Environmental Geoscience from Boston College, is the first participant in a Tongass National Forest staff exchange between Mendenhall and Anan Creek employees.