Are there more bears this year? State officials say it's all about perception

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As rescuers and search crews this week combed the more than 13-mile Pioneer Ridge trail region in search of missing hiker Fina Keifer, feared dead after reported bear encounters, many Alaskans turned to social media with a burning question: what’s up with the seeming recent increase in bear activity?

Bear problems this year hit the news well before winter ended. In mid-February a man was mauled near Haines after inadvertently skiing over a bear den. Just a few days later, also near Haines, a woman was injured when a bear attacked her from inside a pit toilet after she sat down.

In May, a man was mauled near Gulkana while

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