KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — A Kodiak nonprofit is working to gather support for a new project that would replace the city’s life-size fiberglass statue of a Kodiak brown bear.
The 60-year-old statue known as the Madsen Bear is in bad shape and the city could use a replacement, according to chairman of the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust Paul Chervenak. The Madsen Bear welcomes people to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
“Of course, just sunlight would do it, but wind and rain, salt, so the actual statue itself is cracking,” Chervenak said. “There’s been some vandalism and damage, or maybe just accidents, people wanting to have pictures taken with it, so they’re climbing on it and breaking the claws off, etc. And we’ve tried to repair it and keep it up, but it’s sort of (a) losing battle.”
The Brown Bear Trust is relying on donations and a social media campaign to raise the $40,000 it will contribute for a new bronze sculpture of the Kodiak bear. The group has raised more than $8,000 so far.
The statute was raised in honor of Kodiak’s first registered bear guide, Charles Madsen. The group’s funding page says Madsen advocated for the protection of the Kodiak bear after the popularity of hunting in the early 20th century started making an impact.
The organization is already in negotiations with a potential artist for the project, Stan Watts, and the Utah-based foundry he owns, Atlas Bronze Casting.
Chervenak said Kodiak Brown Bear Trust will likely sign a contract with Watts this week, which help secure additional funding for the project.
“The artist is trying to line up donors through people he knows to cover the rest of it,” Chervenak said. “I mean, the total project will probably be $100,000 to $125,000 by the time you create it, ship it here and install it, and so he’s covering that end of it.”