Alaska Bearfest

 2017 - Identifying and addressing threats to bear populations: local and global 

* Please see "schedule" page to view * Symposium times and locations 

Kate  Kendall is a Research Biologist for Glacier National Park. In 1982 she established the Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project (NDGBP) and began thus began using noninvasive sampling methods to capture population estimates of bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE,) one of the last strongholds of the grizzly bear in the lower 48 states. The NDGBP completed a 7-year study in 2008 that estimated 765 grizzly bears make their home in the NCDE, which provides a better understanding of the population size, distribution, and genetic health of grizzly bears in this region.  The Remote Camera Project was a secondary output of the NDGBP project which used remote video and still cameras that captured numerous wildlife species throughout the NCDE. For the past 4 years, her crews sampled hair from multiple visits to 5,600 natural bear rubs throughout the 8 M-acre study area. Information on the species, sex, and individual identity of the bears obtained from genetic analysis of the hair is being used to determine if the number of bears in the population has changed over time.​​​​​​

Dr. (Frank) Lance Craighead, Executive Director, Craighead Institute, Bozeman, Montana (
Lance will provide an overview of US policies and laws that pertain to bear management with some mention of similar state regulations. In particular, there have been a large number of initiatives by federal departments and agencies to begin planning strategies to help us adapt to climate change. Since brown/grizzly bears are indicators of healthy ecosystems and they share habitat with many other species, most of the new initiatives are very relevant to bear management. The US Forest Service has several directives in the 2012 Planning Rule that guide the Forest Plan revision process and apply directly to brown/grizzly bears. Climate change, and the vulnerability of species such as bears, is the main focus of many of these directives. In between discussions of policy, Lance will speak of more entertaining topics such as bear stories; and show slides of grizzly bears from the Lower-48.

Dee Galla, is the Outdoor Recreation Planner for  the 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.  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. 

Dr. David P. Mindell,  is an evolutionary biologist and Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. He is a former Professor and Curator of Birds at the University of Michigan, Dean of Science at the California Academy of Sciences, and Program Director at the US National Science Foundation. He conducts research on avian evolution and conservation biology of birds of prey.  He is past-President of the Society of Systematic Biologists, and has written a popular science book entitled The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life.

Matthias Breiter, Author, wildlife photographer, and cinematographer Matthias  has spent most of the past 30 years researching the daily lives and habits of black, brown, grizzly, and polar bears. He has authored 14 books, and his articles and photography have appeared in.National Geographic magazine, BBC Wildlife, and Outdoor Photographer. His documentary film work has appeared on the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and the BBC. Matthias’s most recent documentary, Polar Bear Summer, has won international awards and was nominated for an Emmy. Congratulations! To Matthias for winning gold at this year’s Independent Book Publisher Awards with his newest book, Inside Passage.

Rick Bass grew up in Houston, and started writing short stories on his lunch breaks while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2011 Rick moved from the Yaak area of Montana to Missoula, Montana. He continues to give readings, write, and teach around the country and world. He lives in Montana with his family. His fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters (in fiction, creative nonfiction, and journalism categories), fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation and more. He has had numerous stories anthologized in Best American Short Stories: The Year’s Best. The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons At Home in Montana (Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt), a book about fathering daughters in the wilderness, has been excerpted in O, The Oprah Magazine. His nonfiction has been anthologized in Best American Spiritual Writing, Best Spiritual Writing, and Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Science Writing.Various of his books have been named New York Times as well as Los Angeles Times Notable Books of the Year, and a New York Times Best Book of the Year.