Two bears have been seen wandering around Kodiak in the last two weeks, prompting concern for community safety.
Last Tuesday, a bear killed a dog just outside a house halfway down Woodland Drive. Sergeant Todd Mountain from Alaska Wildlife Troopers said he was on the scene, along with police and state troopers within minutes of the incident. He said the dog’s owners told him they’d let the dog out to relieve itself, when it came around the corner to find itself face to face with a brown bear. “I think this was a surprise. Com[ing] nose to nose with each other, coming around the corner, kind of surprised. A large bear of 7-800 pounds and a dog… it’s tough for a dog to win that fight.”
Mountain said he looked for the bear for three hours after the incident and ended up locating it. The only reason he didn’t put it down was because it was among houses and unsafe to shoot without endangering other people’s lives.
There’s actually no policy that says bears have to be put down after killing a domestic animal, Mountain says, but this bear has been a problem for months. “This bear’s been into garbage, it’s been around housing for quite awhile, it seems to not be as afraid of people as you would think a bear should be,” he says. “I think this is one of those bears that there’s just no way we’re going to change its habit of hanging in town and getting into garbage.”
The second bear in question was also a repeat-problem bear. Mountain said this one hung out around Selief Lane and up on Hillside Drive. “It had broken into the same garage twice, ripping through a door. Has just been into all the garbage, which yes, I know, isn’t always the bear’s fault. We’ve got some responsibility in that. But that bear has been a problem up on that side of town for quite a few months.”
Mountain said he got wind of this bear last Wednesday after someone reported it on Kodiak’s Bear Aware Facebook page — which has been a great tool for wildlife troopers, he added. He recognized that this wasn’t the same bear that killed the dog down on Woodland, because he’s been in close quarters with both and this one was smaller, with lighter-colored fur.
As it happened, within a couple hours of that Facebook post, Mountain was able to safely put down the bear on Selief.
It’s important to be cautious and bear aware at all times of year, Mountain says. Even in winter, because some bears may not hibernate, but especially in spring.
“Just living here with bears, you’ve always got to be a little bit cautious,” says Mountain. “Especially this time of the year, when the ones that did go to hibernate are waking up and the only thing they’re doing right now is looking for food.”
To report a bear to Fish and Game you can call 486-1880, or simply call Kodiak Police Department at 486-8000.