Alaska Bearfest

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


 Bears of Alaska & Management of Bear Viewing Areas 

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.

Harry Reynolds  Director, Gobi Bear Project, Fairbanks, Alaska ( )
​Harry is the founder of the Gobi Bear Project, an effort to bring back the Critically Endangered Population of a unique subspecies of brown bears in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. He began his life-long association with bear research and management as a high school student in 1959 in Yellowstone Park as a volunteer with Frank and John Craighead’s ground-breaking grizzly bear studies. During 1972-2005, he was an ADF&G grizzly bear research biologist studying population size, ecology, and movements, primarily in northern Alaska. In 2005, following his retirement from ADF&G, he was asked to initiate efforts to save the last 40 Gobi bears from extinction in Mongolia. He continues to work toward that goal.

Ross Dorendorf​  Ross Dorendorf is an Assistant Area Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based out of Ketchikan Alaska. Dorendorf has aided in wildlife research since the beginning of his undergraduate work in college. He worked with mammals ranging in size from Kodiak brown bears to the Alaska tiny shrew. Ross attained his masters in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 2015 where his thesis work focused on improving accuracy of furbearer abundance indices.

John Neary  John is the director of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center with over 30 years of experience working for the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness manager.  John oversaw the development of Admiralty Island’s Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area and worked to create the kayak ranger program in Tracy and Endicott Arms. With vast experience in wildlife viewing areas both in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Africa, he approaches management as an experience that should be safe, efficient, and allow people to visit an area knowing they were someplace special. 

The Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center has seen a boom in use with the expansion of the cruise ship industry. This increased use has demanded a change in management in order to meet needs yet maintain an enjoyable and safe experience.  John Neary will talk about the challenges and opportunities at this popular site.

Dick Shideler