Alaskan city invaded by multi-colored bears
Alaskan city invaded by multi-colored bears A life-size, fiberglass bear statue painted as a birch forest stands in front of a business, All About You Medical Spa, on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)
Alaskan city invaded by multi-colored bears
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Alaska's largest city is home to more than 300 grizzly and black bears - and now more than a dozen multicolored ones.
Life-size statues painted by city artists for a public art installation called "Bears on Parade" are popping up as part of an effort to raise awareness that if you live in Anchorage, you live near bears.
"The whole point of this was to engage in conversation about bears and their habitat - the food that they eat, where they live," said Brenda Carlson. She is a tourism official who helped organize the program.
Anchorage is a city that spans 1,958 square miles. People occupy only about 204 square miles, according to the state Department of Fish and Game. The rest of Anchorage includes national forest, a state wildlife refuge, 55 to 65 grizzlies and 250 to 350 black bears.
Bears can be deadly if they are surprised. The department's Anchorage Bear Committee, which is dedicated to bear conservation, tries to educate people about how to live alongside the animals.
"Not all bears eat salmon," said Carlson, also a committee member. "Some eat berries, depending on where they are. We really wanted it to spark conversation about the bears."
The panel wanted to coordinate the installation of statues with a summer conference of 700 international bear scientists. They were brought to Anchorage by the International Association for Bear Research & Management.
Carlson reached out to America's Fiberglass Animals of Seward, Nebraska. The organization has helped create more than 300 public art projects with fiberglass sculptures.
Fifteen bears arrived by flatbed truck looking like polar bears - completely white. Sponsors paid either $1,750 or $3,000 for bears. So far, 13 have been painted, sealed and erected.
Artists received loose instructions. The adornment had to be family-friendly. And it had to reflect the beauty of Alaska, Carlson said.
One bear has a birch forest painted on its side. Others are painted with rivers, wildflowers or the northern lights. A bear sponsored by an ice cream shop has a tongue that appears to be licking ice cream off its face.
"I love that tongue," Carlson said, and it could fit into the theme of what a bear should not eat - human food.
"Make sure your trash is put away, because that trash bear will be a problem," she said.
The statues arrived too late for the early summer bear conference, but some scientists will benefit. The committee is donating nearly $8,000 from statue sponsorships to the next conference to cover scientists' expenses.

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Why are the life-sized statues brightly colored, instead of brown or black?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • azane-wim4
    10/21/2016 - 11:35 a.m.

    I think expressing your ideas in art is a fantastic idea. Bears are one of the things that Alaska is known for and are such an important element to the society. Presenting the bears in such a beautiful way I think will really raise awareness. Bears are a beautiful creation of God and deserve special attention. I love bears!

  • rlogs-wim5
    10/21/2016 - 12:51 p.m.

    Because if someone were to look at a life-sized bear statue, they could be frightened. Also, it just would look plain, dull, and boring. If they were painted black or brown, no one would want to look at it and it wouldn't do any good in raising awareness.

  • cmanz-wim5
    10/21/2016 - 01:01 p.m.

    Bears are important and people should know more about them. Artists are starting to make art to get noticed to spread things about the bear. They are raising money to not only help the bears, but to inform you about them. There are lots of bears that people think are killers of humans, but they only attack if you frighten them. they don't want people to fright the bears so they are trying to teach them how to react.

  • alexiss1-lew
    10/27/2016 - 12:58 p.m.

    I think this is a beautiful way to raise awareness for the bears. They did a wonderful job and I hope people donate for the cause.

  • kristas-bla
    1/27/2017 - 01:15 p.m.

    In Alaska's largest city art is spreading. I think this is great! Art helps our world come together especially when its specific to one community. the colorful bears may be an eyesore to some people but you can not spell Earth without art!

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