The car accident that led to a black bear's death Tuesday night on Mendenhall Loop Road was unfortunate. But what happened to the animal next was criminal, according to the area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Biologist Neil Barten said someone mutilated the bear before he got to it - sawing off its face and claws and cutting open its back for the back straps.
"It was disgusting," Barten said.
It was also illegal, he said. The dead bear was property of the state, making the harvest of its parts a crime.
Police received a report at 6:46 p.m. Tuesday that the bear had been hit by a vehicle in the 12000 block of Mendenhall Loop Road, near Auke Lake. When officers arrived on the scene, the bear was found dead, police reported.
Barten said it was the first bear killed in Juneau traffic that he knew of this year. Police called him so that he could retrieve it, but his cellular telephone was out of range. By the time he picked up the message, it was too late to retrieve the dead animal Tuesday night.
Police rolled it into a ditch, where it would have been out of the way and no one would have seen it from the roadway, Barten said.
"There's nothing wrong with that," he said. "It's a dead bear."
Wednesday, when he found the bear, he thought its face was in the mud, until he found the face was gone.
"It was pretty ugly," he said. "That shouldn't happen, even to a dead bear."
The bear was an adult male, Barten said. He couldn't tell how old, though, because the teeth and claws were missing.
It isn't uncommon for bears to be killed in traffic during the summer in Juneau, he said. There are years when a dozen bears are hit by cars.
"Juneau's a pretty big bear habitat," he said.
There are bears crossing Mendenhall Loop Road all the time, Barten said. This bear, "just did it at the wrong time."
Tony Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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