Downtown’s black bear family relocated

Two black bear cubs peek out of the foliage downtown in July. They are part of the family of three cubs and a sow that were frequently seen downtown this summer.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has removed a family of black bears that have been spotted downtown numerous times over the summer.

Area Management Biologist Ryan Scott said a sow and four yearlings were caught near the Gastineau Apartments on Friday morning and transported to an area south of Juneau. As is procedure with captured bears, they were marked and processed before release.

This bear family could be the same one that has been sighted frequently in downtown. Scott said this family group has generated about 75 percent of the bear-related calls from downtown this season.

Although he could not absolutely identify these bears as the same ones, he is as sure of this as he can be.

He said the department has attempted at least three times to capture them before now.

Scott said it was important that the four bears be caught. He categorized them as “food conditioned,” meaning they figured out where human food was available and were getting habituated to go for it.

“That makes for a very bad combination,” he said. “The yearlings were getting old enough so they were wandering out a bit and getting mischievous.”

He said the mother weighed around 180 pounds and the yearlings were between 80 and 90 pounds each.

Scott said they were aware of a black bear with three cubs last summer but they did a good job of staying away from people. They were hopeful at the beginning of the summer that the bears wouldn’t get used to foraging for garbage or human food.

Scott said there could still be other bears to turning up downtown throughout the summer. He cautions people to be prepared, especially when handling their garbage.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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