A brown bear strolls along the boardwalk at the Starrigavan campground in 2012. Sitka local Tommy Joseph took this picture, and described how comfortable bears are in the area. “After grazing in the estuary for a good while he climbed on to the boardwalk and rubbed against a signpost, then took about a half an hour nap,” Joseph said. (Tommy Joseph/photo)

A man escaped uninjured after a brown bear tore his tent in Sitka early Saturday morning (8-12-17).

Sitka district ranger Perry Edwards says the man set up camp in the Forest Service’s Starrigavan Campground after getting off the ferry. The tent had been given to him by another passenger.

Sometime in the darkest part of the night the man was awakened by a bear sniffing around the tent. It lifted two sides of the tent, tearing it, but never touching the man inside.

The camper reported the incident to the Forest Service host in the morning. Edwards says the agency’s wildlife biologist suspects the bear was a juvenile recently living on its own away from a sow. The animal also entered the outhouse and chewed on a roll of toilet paper.

Edwards says the incident was not predatory. The man had a clean campsite and no food in his tent. Nevertheless, says Edwards, “Who knows what was in the tent before it was given to him?”

Bear activity around Starrigavan typically increases when salmon enter the creek. Although tent camping has not been closed, the Forest Service has been advising campers to be extra-vigilant about bears, and to not leave food in tents or around campsites.

As a precaution, this particular camper was relocated to a different site, where, Edwards says, “He stitched up his tent and spent another night.”


A tent is not much of a deterrent for a bear motivated by food. Brown bears Baloo, Toby, and Lucky, after shredding a tent baited with a hot dog, during a school demonstration at the Fortress of the Bears in 2015. (KCAW file photo)