Cops shoot female bear

Bear attacked dog in Mendenhall Valley yard, broke neighbor's fence

Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Police shot and killed a female black bear early this morning on Threadneedle Street in the Mendenhall Valley.

Juneau Police officers responded after a 1:14 a.m. call from a woman who reported a bear in her backyard, where she keeps three dogs. She told police the bear was not leaving the yard and the dogs were barking at it.

Officers said the bear moved toward them when they arrived. They said the bear stopped, but began to growl. The officers detonated a seal bomb, which is a large firecracker, and the noise sent the bear up a tree in the yard, where it continued to growl.

The officers said they fired another noisy "cracker round" in the bear's direction. The bear descended the tree, ran across the yard, and attacked one of the dogs that was chained to another tree. Officers were able to separate the bear from the dogs so the owner could take the dogs inside.

As the officers searched for the bear, another Threadneedle Street resident summoned them, saying the bear had broken down her fence. Officers then shot and killed the bear.

Two officers and a supervisor were involved in the incident, said Capt. Tom Porter. No cubs were seen at the time, "but we have since received information that a small cub of this year was located in a tree in the same area. Fish and Game will take it from there."

Shooting a bear is "one of those things you hate to see, especially when a cub is involved," Porter said.

Juneau experienced a high of 69 degrees Monday, and, as temperatures rise, garbage rots more rapidly and its odor - seductive to bears - wafts further afield.

Garbage was found in the yard of the original caller, and was strewn about the yard of the second resident. A citation is pending to the second resident for unsecured garbage, police said. The original caller said her garbage usually is kept in a metal shed, but either the shed door had been left open or her children may have pulled the garbage cans out in anticipation of pick-up today, police said.

This is early in the season for a bear to be put down; the first bear of 2000 was not shot by police until July 27.

Threadneedle Street is bounded on two sides by the deep woods of Tongass National Forest. This makes the area, which includes Garnet Street and Trafalgar Avenue, a natural short cut for bears.

There have been two recent peaks of urban bear deaths. In 1987, 14 bears were killed - including two by the state Department of Fish and Game, and nine by police. During the second peak, in 1991, 15 bears were killed.

Residents who wish to report neighbors who are not dealing properly with their garbage may call the Junk Busters Hotline at 586-5274 and leave a message describing the problem and its location.

Bear reports typically begin at the end of May, are high during July and August and begin to taper off at the end of September. Over the three-day Labor Day weekend in 2000, police had 25 bear calls.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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