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Wildlife Roundup: Two local bear killings remain a mystery

Posted: August 9, 2013 - 12:02am

Welcome to the 2013 Juneau area Wildlife Roundup for the week of August 5. The intent of this column is to provide Juneau residents updates on wildlife activity in the Juneau area, and general interest wildlife information.

Calls concerning black bear activity remained about the same over the last week. The majority of calls came from:

• Downtown

• Highlands

• North Douglas Highway

• Fish Creek Pond

• Valley neighborhoods adjacent to Thunder Mountain

• Valley neighborhoods adjacent to the valley movie theater

• Lena Loop

• Tee Harbor Area

To date, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has captured and released a total of two black bears this year. In addition, the department has humanely killed one black bear this year.

Of the two bears captured and released, one was a young female becoming habituated to an urban area early this spring; the second bear, another female, was an incidental catch while trapping for a different bear. A third bear, also female, was killed after causing a substantial amount of property damage.

Black bears are active throughout Juneau. Many of the concerns can be addressed through the proper storage of garbage, and the removal of attractants such as fish scraps and waste, bird feeders and pet food. The department continues to receive calls concerning birdseed and unsecured trash; by eliminating attractants, homeowners can largely eliminate unwanted bear encounters. The department continues to work with residents to address a small number bears who have become destructive or demonstrated aggressive behavior.

On Thursday, Aug. 1, an individual hiking with his dogs off Basin Road realized the value of bear spray. The individual encountered a female black bear and cub in a brushy section of trail and in defense of the cub, the female swatted one of the dogs. After hitting the dog the female moved to pursue the animal; the owner yelled at the bear which drew her attention to the human. The female approached to a close distance and in response, the hiker used a full can of bear spray to deter the bear. The hiker found his dog, and neither the female bear nor cub was located in the area the following day. Bears do not like surprises so make noise when hiking, travel in groups when you can, and having bear spray along is a good idea.

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers continue to investigate two bear killings in the Juneau area. A bear was found dead in the Lena Point area and another along Gastineau Channel, south of downtown. If anyone has information concerning either of the two bears please contact the Alaska Wildlife Troopers at 465-4000, or the ADF&G at 465-4265. Callers may remain anonymous by calling the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Safeguard hotline at 1-800-478-3377 and may be eligible for a reward.

Many folks are traveling to Sweetheart Creek to fish for sockeye, or going to Fish Creek for king salmon and are encountering bears in both locations. People should exercise caution when fishing and do everything possible to prevent bears from getting the catch, including leaving the area with their fish, if necessary. Fishers should make noise and travel in groups when going to and from fishing sites, and be vigilant while fishing. Keep your catch close at hand so bears do not steal the fish, and be sure to discard carcasses and other fish waste in deep or fast moving water.

• Ryan Scott is a wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. For additional information and questions, please contact the Douglas area wildlife office at 465-4265.

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