Rare blue glacier bear spotted in Alaska's capital

JUNEAU, Alaska -- A woman putting out bird food had an unexpected guest for breakfast Friday -- a rarely-seen blue glacier bear that recently has developed a fondness for coming to town to eat, state game biologists said.

'I put out a new block of suet seed for the chickadees, and there he was -- right in the middle of the back yard,' said Daisy Tunnell, 60, a retired teacher.


'He's a gorgeous bear,' she said. 'He's a big bear. He has a dark head, but the rest of his body is bluish gray with a dark stripe running down his back.'

Bears emerging from nearby mountain dens in the spring often wander into Juneau scrounging for food, area game biologist Bruce Dinneford said, but never before has anyone seen the likes of this creature in the Alaska state capital.

Glacier bears, or blue bears as they are sometimes called, are born of black bear parents with recessive genes for the bluish coloration. At one time, scientists thought blue bears were a rare separate species, but Dinneford said now most bear experts believe they are really a genetic variation of the black bear.


The highest known density of the elusive blue bear is believed to be near Yakutat, 200 miles northwest of Juneau, Dinneford said.

Juneau's blue bear has ventured right into residential and business districts, scavenging for tossed-out treats a mere two blocks from the Juneau police station, police Capt. Randy March said. That is 12 blocks from the governor's mansion, he noted.

Latest Headlines