An Alaska Wildlife Trooper shot and killed a charging brown bear Monday night after it raided a chicken coop at a home on Randall Road.
A homeowner contacted the Juneau Police Department stating that a brown bear was in their chicken coop killing chickens at 7:51 p.m. Monday, according to an AST release.
A trooper already in the area responded to the call and arrived about 15 minutes later. When the trooper approached the bear, it charged within 15 feet of the trooper and was shot and killed.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game arrived on scene, took possession of the carcass and confirmed that it was indeed a brown bear. The bear has been identified as a 4- to 5-year-old male weighing about 425 pounds, ADF&G biologist Stephanie Sell said. The carcass was disposed of in the city landfill.
According to trooper spokesperson Tim Despain, the wildlife trooper deemed the killing justified in defense of life and property (DLP) and did not issue any citations to the homeowner.
When contacted Tuesday morning, the homeowner, who asked not to be identified, said she first noticed the bear making noise under her porch at about 7 p.m. She initially thought it was a black bear, which are commonly found in the Juneau area, but noticed this bear was much bigger, with a wider head than a black bear’s.
“Once we saw what it was, we got on the phone right away to neighbors. They have little kids,” the homeowner said.
The homeowner had four chickens unaccounted for, though because the bear destroyed the coop’s fence, she couldn’t be sure if the chickens fled or were eaten by the bear.
“I haven’t even got a chance to count (the chickens), honestly,” the homeowner said. “It kind of just circled the house taking out chickens.”
The homeowner said she heard four or five shots. So did a neighbor who lives down the street. Other neighbors report hearing about a brown bear in the area.
“Thankfully the trooper was real quick. It was just 15 minutes, and honestly, we weren’t expecting the bear to be put out. We were just thinking, OK, this is just going to get moved somewhere. So when we heard gunshots, we were really surprised,” she said.
Because bears view chicken coops as food sources, Fish & Game recommends owners of chicken coops take appropriate steps to prevent bears from accessing them, such as installing an electrified fence. In this case, the chicken coop was not protected by an electrified fence.
Fish & Game’s Douglas office has several electrified fences available to loan out, though Sell said she thinks they’re in use at the moment. Fish & Game is available to help homeowners design and install electric fences and encouraged anyone with a chicken coop to contact ADF&G for more information or visit http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.bearfences.
Brown bear are uncommon in the Juneau area, Sell said, but the northern reaches of the road system, where the DLP killing occurred, border on brown bear territory. There, it’s “not uncommon” to encounter a brown bear, Sell said.
This is the second brown bear killed in the Juneau area this year in the defense of life or property. In May, a North Douglas homeowner shot and killed a 725-pound brown bear on his property after he feared it would charge him. That was the first known killing of a brown bear on Douglas since 1974.
Sell didn’t have numbers on hand, but she said that, outside of the pair of brown bear killings, she’s seen typical numbers this year for defense of life and property bear killings.