Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Do Llamas Attract Bears?

Yep, it's that time of year when the bears are "out and about" after their winter nap. Brown bear killed in Chugiak after it attacked 22 chickens and a goat

When walking or hiking with the llamas I'm often asked if llamas attract bears. Bears have been known to attack llamas but my experience has been that llamas don't particularly attract bears anymore than any other pack stock or pets.

In fact the llama's "alarm call" may act as a good deterrent for bears. Llamas are instinctively alert and aware of their surroundings, and usually draw attention to an intruder by making a startling "alarm cal"l when it senses danger such as a bear. A llama usually knows there is a bear around long before we see or hear it.This is a great feature when hiking or camping because llamas will let off their "alarm call" when unwanted intruders such as bears come around. Click on the hyperlink to hear what a llama alarm call sounds like - Llama Alarm Call

However, I would not recommend leaving llamas tied out unattended while camping. In that situation llamas would not be able to defend themselves from predators such as bears or even an aggressive dog. There are both brown and black bears in the Anchorage area and our neighborhood (in Eagle River) is no exception. We have used an electric fence for many years that works well to keep the bears and other predators away.

And of course hikers and walkers should always be "bear aware" when out for walks in the woods with or without llamas. I usually take bear spray with me. This ADN article provides helpful information on how to effectively use bear spray. How to Use Bear Spray Effectively.  

 Costco sells bear spray (2 Pack) for 39.99.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game website has some good tips on bear safety (below) when traveling in bear country- The Essentials for Traveling in Alaska's Bear Country.



Fast Facts for the Field

  • Make noise so you don't surprise a bear. Stay alert and look for signs of bears.
  • Never approach or crowd bears; respect their "personal space."
  • Keep food, garbage and other attractants out of reach of bears.
  • Stay calm during a bear encounter, talk and wave your arms. Don't run!