Alaska State Troopers Wednesday shot a bear that had been wandering around town for a couple of weeks. Sergeant Shane Nicholson with the troopers says authorities deemed it necessary after receiving numerous reports of the bear getting into dumpsters and roll carts and passing through people’s properties. He says it was also seen around a couple of schools on Wednesday – at the Baptist Mission when kids were arriving for school and near East Elementary.
He says the Kodiak Police Department, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers made multiple attempts over the last week to deter the bear.
“Cracker shells were used, an air horn was used, rubber bullets were used, tried to scare the bear off, and none of those attempts seemed to have any success with this bear.”
Nicholson says Wednesday he and other troopers followed the bear onto Spruce Cape, where it dug through a garbage can behind a residence, and that’s when he shot the animal. He says standard procedure after killing a bear in defense of life or property is to take the hide and skull to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Nate Svoboda, area biologist for Fish and Game, says what happens next depends on the quality of the remains and the circumstances of the killing. He says they may destroy the hide and skull or, more often, donate them for educational purposes. In this case, he says, they’ll probably dispose of them.
“The hide wasn’t in very good quality, it was pretty rubbed, it was a pretty young bear, you know, it was a 3-year-old male, so there’s not a lot of value unfortunately in that. And so, we don’t want to lose money, the state doesn’t want to lose money, so we probably won’t pay to send it out and get it tanned.”
Svoboda says he also examined the contents of the bear’s stomach.
“As expected, the stomach was pretty much full of trash. Plastic bags, twist ties, wrappers, random trash that you find, very little natural food, actually zero natural food was found in the stomach. There was some rice and some corn and some other things.”
And it’s likely the bear would have returned for more and continued scavenging. That’s one reason Svoboda says it’s rare for Fish and Game to stun a bear and take it elsewhere.
“No matter how far you drop them away, they often have a tendency to make their way back to their territory. Bears set up established home ranges, most commonly, and they have a tendency to make it back to where they came from. But more of a concern is when you pick an animal up from its area or out of its home range, and you drop it off somewhere else, you’re displacing all those animals that are already in that area.”
He says that displaces other bears and wreaks havoc in the bear community. Preventative measures are perhaps the surest way to stop bear deaths like this one. Svoboda reminds the community to be bear aware and practice responsible waste management.