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Learn to tolerate bears if possible

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2001

I believe the police are partially responsible for escalating what should have been a simple, easily solvable problem into one that resulted in the death of a bear cub and its mother. In the most recent case, the mother bear was threatening a person's property (dogs), and the police were right to respond and chase the bear up the tree. At that point, they should have had the dog-owner secure his dogs inside, issued a citation for unsecured garbage (no excuses allowed) and then left. If the commotion has attracted onlookers, direct them to leave as well. The bear will eventually come down, will finish eating the garbage that attracted it and will leave itself.

There is no need to "chase off" or harass a bear with seal bombs or cracker shells that is not posing an immediate threat to life or property. If people and pets are in harm's way, it's often easier to direct them to safety than it is to direct the bear.

A policy of "minimum needed intervention" won't make all bear problems go away and it won't save all bears from being shot. But it will reduce the amount of time wasted by JPD responding to bear sightings and chasing bears up and down trees or from yard to yard in the middle of the night. It would also save at least a few bears from meaningless deaths. If a bear walks through your yard at night, or even during the day, unless it poses a clear threat to life and property, its temporary presence is NOT a reason to call Fish and Game, JPD, or your friends and neighbors. If there's no food attracting it, it will be gone all too soon. Enjoy the moment. Take a picture if you safely can, or simply go back to sleep. You'll have had a neat wildlife viewing experience, and you'll save JPD, Fish and Game, and the bears a lot of unnecessary trouble.

Matt Kirchhoff

Juneau



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