Skip to main content

Llamas in Bear Country


When out in the woods even in the suburban areas around Anchorage, hikers and walkers should always be "bear aware" and have some type of bear deterrent, whether that be bear spray or a gun. The debate goes on as to which is more effective against a bear. Here's an interesting article by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bear Spray vs. Bullets Which offers better protection?. And of course no deterrent is effective if not readily available (i.e. stored in your backpack). So whatever you choose as a bear deterrent, be sure you can easily access it when needed. This ADN article provides helpful information on how to effectively use bear spray. How to Use Bear Spray Effectively.

I'm often asked "Do llamas attract bears?" Bears have been known to attack llamas but my experience has been that llamas don't 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 call" when it senses danger. A llama is usually aware of a bear long before we can see or hear it and will let off their "alarm call" when the unwanted intruder is around.

Click on the hyperlink to hear what a llama alarm call sounds like - Llama Alarm Call.

Camping with llamas even helped one couple with their bear anxiety. "But when the only thing shielding us from Mother Nature is a thin layer of opaque fabric, our imaginations run roughshod over rational thought. Bears are the problem. Our fear of bear attacks is equal parts nebulous and irrational. We logically know we’re not going to be eaten by one, but our adrenal glands still need convincing." Here's a link to the article. On Backpacking with an Anxiety Llama

That said, 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 and that works well to keep the bears and other predators away.

Alaska Department of Fish &Game (ADF&G) has additional information on bear safety on their website. 

For those of you in the Anchorage area, the Municipality of Anchorage has a website where you can report a bear sighting. This website also features the bear activity maps that show black and brown bear habitat as well as areas of frequent bear encounters. MOA Bear Activity Maps

Some tips to keep you safe in bear country (from the MOA website):
  1. -Buddy up. You are safer in a group.
  2. -Make Noise. This will prevent you from surprising a bear.
  3. -Use your senses to stay aware. No headphones!
  4. -Carry bear spray. Have it accessible and know how to use it.
  5. -Don’t feed bears. Handle food, fish and attractants responsibly.
  6. -Slow down. High speed equals high risk in bear habitat.
  7. -Leash your pets. Off-leash pets can bring bears back to you.
  8. -Never run from a bear!

Related articles at links below.
Afraid of bears? There are far more dangerous things in the Alaska outdoors
The Essentials for Traveling in Alaska's Bear Country.
A brown bear killed a hiker in Eagle River. A man searching for him was mauled.

    Popular posts from this blog

    Lower Eagle River Trail or River Woods Trail

    The lower Eagle River trail (also called the River Woods Trail) runs along the Eagle River in Chugach State Park and can be hiked all times of the year including winter. Often overlooked, it's just minutes from downtown Eagle River. It's an easy walk that offers convenient access with intermittent views of surrounding mountains and opportunity for wildlife viewing.

    The trailhead can be accessed from the south side of the Briggs Bridge off the Eagle River Loop Road where there is pubic parking and a boat launch.


    From the Briggs Bridge access, the lower Eagle River trail goes east for through birch and spruce forest over relatively flat terrain. The old section of trail skirting the private land has been improved over the years and is now clearly marked. (See photo on left.)  Boardwalks have been added to a marshy section next to the Swan Pond. Remains of charred trees and scorched ground remind us of the wildfire that burned about 25 acres in this area over the Memorial day we…

    Hike the Symphony Lake - Ship Creek Loop

    Do this hike in September and you will be rewarded with vibrant fall colors! The hike goes through the beautiful South Fork Valley and over the mountains into Ship Creek with stunning views of alpine lakes (Eagle and Symphony), tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains.

    Download this free DNR South Fork Valley Trail Guide: SF Trail Guide & Map

    To get there, take the trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes from the South Fork trailhead parking lot where there is now a fee station. Alaska State Park Fees. Proceed to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp here for the night. Once on the southwest side of Symphony Lake, look to the mountains directly west for a broad mostly tundra slope with a saddle at the top. After a 1600 foot climb you will reach the saddle where you can see the North Fork of Ship Creek. At this point you can either drop about halfway down to Ship Creek to find an old horse trail. Follow the horse/an…

    Hike to the Perch, Heritage Falls and Icicle Creek on the Historic Iditarod Trail

    The Historic Iditarod (aka Crow Pass) Trail which spans the Girdwood Valley to Eagle River is considered one of the best trails to hike in the Chugach mountain range and offers diverse scenic sights including glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife. It’s not only a great hiking/backpacking route, but it's also an historic portion of the Iditarod Trail that led from Seward to mines in the Interior. A bit of trivia not known by many is that this trail was rebuilt in the 1970s with girl scout labor.
    There are a number of hiking options from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) parking lot. You can hike the entire twenty-three mile traverse, hike portions of the Crow Pass trail (as I often do) or take other shorter trails that start from the ERNC. Follow this link to find out more on these shorter trails. Eagle River Nature Center Trails.

    If you elect to hike the entire twenty-three mile traverse you can start from either Girdwood or the ERNC. The Elevation Gain is 2,100 feet from Crow Creek …