Black bears prompt Rotary Park closing

Soldotna’s 52-acre Rotary Park located along Funny River Road is temporarily closed due to black bear activity.

Soldotna Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael said a mother bear and three cubs were spotted Wednesday afternoon and that calls starting coming in to the city about their presence late that day. The park was closed by 5 p.m., he said.

“Protect the people, protect the bears,” Carmichael said of the decision.

The fact that it’s a mother bear with cubs heightens the possibility of danger, he said.

The three cubs climbed up a tree and there was enough foot traffic by those using the park to keep them up there, Carmichael said. About 10-15 people had to vacate the park when it closed, he said.

Members of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game were scheduled to head back out to Rotary Park along with city staff members Thursday to reassess the situation. If the bears are still there, the park will remain closed. If they’ve left, it will reopen.

Carmichael said the city will make a decision based on Fish and Game’s recommendation. He anticipated Rotary Park would be reopened soon.

It’s not often that a Soldotna park has to close due to bear activity.

Carmichael said he can think of only one other time it’s happened since he started at his job in 2000.

“This is the first time we’ve closed during July,” he said.

Soldotna Creek Park was closed down for about a week when evidence of bears was found near its playground shortly after it was built, Carmichael said.

“It’s Alaska,” he said. “It happens periodically.”

There are currently posters up in Soldotna Creek Park advising visitor about a black bear sighting near the park on July 3, though the park is not closed.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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