ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska’s largest city is home to more than 300 grizzly and black bears and now more than a dozen multicolored ones.

Life-size bear statues painted by city artists, part of “Bears on Parade,” are popping up as they’re completed. They’re part of a continuing effort to raise awareness that if you live in Anchorage, you live near bears.

“The whole point of this was to engage in conversation about bears and their habitat – the food that they eat, where they live,” said Brenda Carlson, visitor services director for Visit Anchorage, the city tourism marketing group. She’s also a member of the state Department of Fish and Game’s Anchorage Bear Committee, dedicated to bear conservation.

The city covers 1,958 square miles but people occupy only about 204 square miles. The rest of the city includes national forest, a state wildlife refuge, 55 to 65 grizzlies and 250 to 350 black bears.

The committee tries to educate people about how to live with bears.

“Not all bears eat salmon,” Carlson said. “Some eat berries, depending on where they are. We really wanted it to spark conversation about the bears.”

The committee also wanted to coordinate the statues’ installation with a summer conference of 700 international bear scientists brought to Anchorage by the International Association for Bear Research & Management.

Carlson reached out to America’s Fiberglass Animals of Seward, Nebraska, which has helped create more than 300 public art projects with fiberglass.

Fifteen bears arrived by flatbed truck looking like polar bears – completely white. Sponsors paid either $1,750 or $3,000 for bears. So far 13 have been painted, sealed and erected.

Artists received loose instructions. The adornment had to be family friendly and reflect the beauty of Alaska. One bear has a birch forest painted on its side. Others are painted with rivers, wildflowers or northern lights. A bear sponsored by an ice cream shop added a tongue that appears to be licking ice cream.

“I love that tongue,” Carlson said, and it could fit into the theme of what a bear should not eat – human food.