The city of Sitka is replete with fascinating attractions, but few are as intriguing as the Fortress of the Bear, a facility that houses rescued bears.
While visiting the Fortress of the Bear, you will support its admirable mission and experience the wonder of Alaskan wildlife up close. This is one Sitka destination you will not want to miss on a 7-day Inside Passage round trip from Vancouver with Princess® Cruises, it’s often described as the best tour in Sitka.
What is the Fortress and why is it important?
The state animal of Alaska is the moose, but it could just as easily be the black bear. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, over 100,000 black bears roam the vast state, along with an estimated 30,000 grizzly bears.
But while the bear population remains sizable in Alaska (especially when compared to other states), their territory is quickly shrinking — and more and more young bears are becoming orphans or falling ill. Thankfully, Alaskan bears have many human allies at the Fortress of the Bear, a facility that rehabilitates rescued bears and educates the public on wildlife conservation.
Orphaned cubs — particularly those plagued by illness and injury — are often killed by the Department of Fish and Game. The Fortress of the Bear aims to prevent this terrible fate whenever possible by ensuring that young bears have a place to regain their health. The rescue center currently houses eight bears, several of which arrived when the facility first opened in 2007.
Following rehabilitation, the bears of the Fortress have been rehoused at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary and the Bronx Zoo. Eventually, the team at the Fortress of the Bear would like to work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to have rehabilitated young bears released into the wild.
Why visit the Fortress of the Bear?
A 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization, the Fortress of the Bear relies entirely on admission fees and donations. Thus, by paying the facility’s entry fee, you support an important and greatly underfunded cause.
Your contribution ensures that the Fortress of the Bear can continue to house its current bear residents — and that it can continue to provide a home for rescued bear orphans in the future.The prospect of supporting a good cause is certainly enticing, but like many visitors, your chief goal is likely to see the facility’s eight bear residents up close. It is a rare thing to witness so many bears from just thirty feet away. By observing multiple bears in a single facility, you will gain a greater appreciation for their intelligence, their craftiness, and their unique personalities. If you’re lucky, you may be able to watch the bears as they sign to the keepers in hopes of scoring food.
In addition to seeing eight bears up close and personal, you will enjoy access to some of Alaska’s friendliest and most knowledgeable naturalists. Passionate about wildlife conservation, these naturalists are always eager to share stories about the bears’ antics, as well as their past, present, and future in the great state of Alaska.
Accessing the Fortress of the Bear
Weather permitting, visitors are able to stop by and hang out with the Fortress’ bears and naturalists all year long, making this a perfect shore excursion to pre-plan so you don’t miss a thing during your Alaska cruise.
The Fortress of the Bear is located approximately five miles from Sitka’s downtown area and is easily accessible though multiple shore excursions that are offered!
No trip to Sitka is complete without a visit to the Fortress of the Bear. Do your part to support the rescue and rehabilitation of Alaskan bears — you’ll be rewarded with an extended glimpse of the state’s majestic wildlife.
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