Glacier bear shot in Thunder Mountain Park

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003

Bears are part of the landscape around the Thunder Mountain Trailer Park, area residents said Wednesday after Juneau Police had to kill one bruin that went too far.

The glacier-colored black bear that was put down by a police officer around 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Mendenhall Valley neighborhood was the first urban bear that had to be destroyed in the Juneau area this year, said Neil Barten, area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He judged the bear to be 2 years old, weighing about 120 pounds.

The only other bear that had to be destroyed in the area this year was a brown bear that had been struck by a car, Barten said.

"There are other bears out there up against the hills," he said. "The bears are feeding on berries and vegetation."

But one bear Wednesday morning managed to break into Yvonne Miller's locked storage shed to feast on the garbage. Once he found it, he wouldn't leave it alone.

"We were all hung up waiting for the bear to leave," Miller said.

She said she called the police after she unsuccessfully tried to scare it away.

Police reported the bear "reluctantly" left after the responding officer made some noises. About a half hour later, the officer responded to a call about the bear returning. The bear answered his noises with an aggressive stance and grunting sounds and started walking toward the officer before walking back into the woods.

A few minutes later, the bear returned, becoming aggressive, snorting, grunting and stamping the ground. When the bear started backing the officer down, the officer shot it, police reported.

Barten said the light-colored bluish bear will be skinned and the hide will be used for educational purposes because it was in an unusual color phase for a black bear.

"I'm just glad it was a police officer out there and not my kids," Miller said.

Delta Drive resident Misty Hogberg, whose home overlooks the alley behind the trailer park, said she has seen bears in the garbage in the area. Her biggest concern is for the safety of the children. She said she has seen some kids in the neighborhood chasing bears.

Juneau Police reported that two teenagers were seen chasing a bear through a residential area on Thunder Mountain Road shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday. A bear also reportedly was seen getting into trash near Glacier Highway in the Lemon Creek area shortly before 2:30 a.m., police reported.

"What's going to happen when the bear comes face to face with a kid?" Delta Drive resident Bill Lawrence asked.

He said that when the bears find a meal in people's garbage, "it's his food. He's not going to back down."

Police reported that there were no garbage violations observed at the Thunder Mountain Trailer Park on Wednesday.

"The bottom line is people have to be forever diligent keeping their garbage under lock and key," Barten said.

Wednesday morning even that wasn't enough.

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