Co-Founder & Executive Director
Creator and director of the Fortress of the Bear, bear rescue and education center in Sitka Alaska. Established access to the Sitka based facility in Sitka to create a Bear cub recovery, training and distribution center to deal with the orpan bear cubs that were being destroyed by the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game. This involved identifying and gaining long term access to several large abandoned pulp mill waste water treatment tanks near Sitka Alaska. The process involved removing more than 500 tons of abandoned mill infrastructure and creating the perimiter security systems, bear management systems, nutritional assets, veterinary requirements, safety criteria to be able to recover, manage, maintain, display and transfer bears under authority of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. I designed and fabricated all of the gating, security, animal management and visitor ammenities that have been used successfully on site for the past twelve years. The permit process with the state took more than five years to complete. The permit was issued on July 19th 2007 and we acquired our first bear on the 27th of July 2007. Additional bears have been acquired since then with three placed at the Bronx Zoo in 2009, one to Texas in 2010, Montana in 2011. Our total resident population currently stands at 5 brown bears and 3 black. We are one of three facilities in the state approved to hold, train and disburse bears for the State of Alaska. I personally supervise and manage all bear activities on site.
Prior to founding Fortress Of The Bear Les was a Alaska master guide, with 25 years in Sitka, He have guided and operated boats on Kodiak, interior Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula. 6 years on the Sitka Fish & Game Advisory Committee, little league coach, manager and umpire. More than 20 years with the United States Forest Service, with assignments in fire suppression, law enforcement, fire prevention, safety and recreation management. An Aviation safety officer, USDA forest Service, Chatham area of Tongass N. F. Sitka, Alaska. Supervised logistic Aircraft support for a multi discipline wildland agency in S.E. Alaska. Created, conducted and documented extensive training programs for all aspects of wilderness personnel exposure. Graduated Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco, Georgia 1979
Co-Founder & Administrator
Evy Kinnear along with her husband founded Fortress Of The Bear in 2002. After meeting Les and visiting Sitka she fell in love with Les and the wildness and beauty of Sitka and decided that this was where she wanted to live. The decision to begin Fortress of The Bear was all the impetus she needed to make Sitka her home. Without any prior knowledge of bears, her love of nature and her commitment to honoring the stewardship of the wilderness laid the path forward on the all-encompassing project and bring their vision to fruition.
Evy was raised in Los Angeles and as a single mother raised her 2 daughters in the wilds of LA.A bachelor’s degree in Sociology led to a teaching position in the Los Angeles School district, where she taught math and science.She was a member of both the Carnegie Leadership team and the Math Renaissance Program out of Stanford.Evy went on to own an interior design business in Malibu.After her children were grown she moved to Portland Oregon where she met Les at a mutual friends home.Their backgrounds were strikingly different but found common ground in their love of nature, animals and a sense of adventure. Since moving to Sitka.Fortress has absorbed most of her energy, but she enjoys movies, reading and continues to struggle with knitting
Bear Manager & Specialist
Claire initially found Fortress of the Bear online, while looking for places to conduct bear intelligence research for her university dissertation. She was studying Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter in England, and traveled to Sitka to work with Balloo in 2012. She fell in love with the project fast, and has been with Fortress of the Bear ever since as their resident Bear Manager and Specialist, working patiently towards a green card to become a US resident. To many people in Sitka, Claire is known by her roller derby alias, Grizz – short for Grizzly Madams! In 2017, she started skating with the local league, the Sitka Sounds Slayers. She is currently the Captain of the league’s B Team, the SheeDevils!
Chris followed Claire to Alaska for the summer in 2012, to assist with her bear research, and also fell in love with Fortress of the Bear. The British couple got engaged in Sitka, and have been with the project ever since. Once a personal trainer, Chris dove headfirst into the animal care field, but found a passion for public speaking and education. Now our Operations Manager, Chris spends the majority of his work day talking to visitors, teaching them all about bears and Fortress of the Bear’s mission. In his spare time, he founded Sitka’s first ever rugby team, the Sitka Sockeyes! As Captain, he motivates, inspires and coaches his team!
"I began volunteering at Fortress of the Bear in the Spring of 2009 right after moving to Sitka. My favorite bear is Lucky. He is laid back, can easily entertain himself for hours and loves spending time in the water. He also overcame a very serious injury as a young bear and is thriving now. I have had various responsibilities since I began volunteering from cleaning to helping with food prep and enrichment. My favorite things to do are picking wild foods for the bears and telling guests about these remarkable creatures. The most memorable moment I have had was just looking into the eyes of one of the bears and feeling that he was engaged in looking back at me. I hope I can volunteer another 10 years!"
Here's Debi, who also runs a local tour company, Specialized Tours of Sitka.
"I started volunteering on Sundays in the summer of 2015. Killisnoo is my favorite bear because he is the "Underdog" and I like to root for him and encourage him, especially when he stands up for himself. He is sweet and just goes about his bear business, which I like. I help in the gift shop, with food prep, cleaning, recycling and telling the visitors about the bears."
Here's Kathy, pictured with her lovely rescue malamute, Bristol!
Board of Directors
Sul MD Ross Thorward
FOB Board President
FOB Board Vice President
FOB Board Secretary
Army Corp of Engineers
Fine Arts Camp/Odess Foundation
Partner Longliner Lodge
Phone& Fax (907)966 3052. No email.