FAIRBANKS - Alaska wildlife biologists are hustling to keep up with numerous grizzly bear sightings in the interior, including two that led to the animals being shot and killed in defense of life and property.
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Steven Schreiber arrived at his Salcha home Thursday afternoon to find a grizzly in his pig pen. One of Schreiber's two pigs was in the bear's mouth.
Schreiber ran inside, grabbed his rifle and fatally shot the bear. One of the pigs was dead and half eaten. The one that had been in the bear's mouth is expected to survive.
"I hate to have to do it, but I'm not happy about losing one of my animals," said Schreiber. "I'm glad he wasn't eating on my horse."
The bear weighed close to 400 pounds, said state wildlife biologist Don Young, who collected the dead animal. Bears shot in defense of life and property must be turned over to the state.
A small grizzly also was shot and killed Thursday near mile 13 of the Elliott Highway.
Timothy Shoults shot the bear about 150 feet from his home as it came near his barking dog, Duty.
"The dog kept backing up and the bear kept stepping forward, lowering his head and shaking it," said Shoults, who shot the grizzly between the eyes.
Young said the shooting will be investigated by state wildlife enforcement troopers to verify that it was a justified shooting in defense of life or property.
Grizzly sightings also have been reported over the past week at several different spots along Chena Hot Springs Road and Nordale Road east of Fairbanks.
A grizzly chased a man who was riding a bike on a trail about a mile off Chena Hot Springs Road.
Todd Fitzgerald was not hurt, in part because his golden retriever held the bear at bay long enough for him to flee. Fitzgerald said he believes he got between the bear and its cub, although he never saw another bear.