Two Rivers grizzlies show no fear of people and dogs

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002

FAIRBANKS - A sow grizzly bear and her two curious yearling cubs are still making the rounds in the Two Rivers neighborhood east of Fairbanks, and a state wildlife biologist said the cubs will be killed if the three bears don't move on.

While the bears haven't threatened anyone since they showed up in a subdivision 10 days ago, they have entered several dog lots and yards while ignoring repeated scare-off attempts, said biologist Don Young of the state Department of Fish and Game.

"If they're coming into dog lots, they're a hazard - that's unacceptable," Young said. "Though they haven't been aggressive, it's just a matter of time. I think the safe thing is to kill them."

The cubs are posing the problem, Young said. While the sow has been seen with the cubs, which are most likely yearlings, it's the cubs who appear to have no fear of humans. Killing the cubs would have less of an impact on the grizzly bear population than killing the sow, the biologist said.

Capturing and moving the bears is not a reasonable option, Young said.

"We've tried that and they just come back," he said. "We're dealing with a whole family group, too. It would be difficult to capture all three bears."

The bears visited Chris Knott's dog yard on three nights, including Sunday when Young was there.

"They just sauntered right in there," Young said of the cubs. The biologist shot one of the cubs with a bean bag from a shotgun and the bears left, only to return twice more.

Knott shot both cubs with rubber bullets to scare them off the first time.

"Fifteen minutes later they came right back in the dog yard," Knott said.

He then fired shots over the bears' heads. While the cubs wandered around the dog lot, the sow stayed at the edge of the woods keeping her eye on the cubs, Knott said.

"They'd come in and start batting (food) bowls around and swatting the swivels (a dog is attached to it by a chain)," Knott said. "The dogs would be on the other end of the swivel, shaking."

But the bears never acted aggressively toward the dogs, he said.

"I never thought any of the dogs were threatened, even when the cubs were three feet away," Knott said.

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