©Jennifer Fogle Smith
Alaska Department of Fish & Game
© Jennifer Fogle Smith

Living With Bears

Kodiak bears are important to local residents and Native communities as a symbol of Kodiak’s spirit. They are prized by hunters, photographers, bear viewers and the many businesses that benefit. In some situations, bears also may become a threat to human safety and property. To balance these diverse aspects of bear-human relations, the Kodiak Bear Trust works closely with agencies and citizen groups to incorporate science, traditional knowledge, and open discussion into effective management. Kodiak bear research, management, and habitat protection is done cooperatively by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

© Matt Van Daele

© Mara Weisenberger


In recent years, the Kodiak Bear Trust has helped fund cooperative State and Federal aerial surveys that are conducted annually at different locations to update estimates of bear density and composition. Current information on population status is especially important on Kodiak because of its worldwide reputation for large bears, high bear numbers, good bear viewing, and quality hunting. Kodiak Bear Trust funds also helped develop the Kodiak Archipelago Bear Conservation and Management Plan (2002). Subsequently, the Kodiak Unified Bear Subcommittee (KUBS) was formed to guide implementation of the plan. The Kodiak Brown Bear Trust works closely with KUBS to promote that work. Additional funding will be necessary to assure that the plan is implemented and improved in the future.

© Matt Van Daele

© Darron Scott

Creation of the Refuge

Concern over reduced bear populations prompted sportsmen to petition the Federal government to protect bears and their habitat on Kodiak.  The results of their efforts were stricter regulations and creation of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in 1941.


Hunters kill about 180 Kodiak bears each year under tightly controlled regulations. About 5,000 resident hunters apply each year for a chance at the 327 bear permits that are available for them.  Hunters who are not residents of Alaska must hire a professional guide, paying $30,000 – $45,000 dollars per hunt. Over 70% of the Kodiak bears killed by hunters are males.

Land Managers

The majority of lands within the Kodiak Archipelago are managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service – Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the State of Alaska (Alaska Mapper). Other areas, including most of Afognak Island are owned by one of several Native Corporations.  US Coast Guard is responsible for lands in the vicinity of the Buskin River drainage on northeast Kodiak Island.  The only lands owned by private individuals are in the vicinity of Kodiak city, Chiniak and other villages, and isolated remote parcels.  

Detailed land ownership maps, including contact information for the owners, can be found on the Kodiak Island Borough GIS Map Center.

Kodiak NWR and State managed lands are generally open to free access. US Coast Guard lands have many restricted areas where no unauthorized access is allowed. Native Corporation owned lands typically require a land use permit for any access and may be closed in certain areas or times (see contact list below).  All lands owned by private individuals should be considered closed unless you have land-owner permission.