Bears relocated from Switzer

Bear family was breaking into sheds

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2001

A mother bear and two cubs were safely relocated after they tripped a trap in Switzer Village Mobile Home Park.

The sow and one of her cubs were caught late Tuesday night when they wandered into a barrel trap in Switzer Village, said wildlife biologist Neil Barten of the state Department of Fish and Game. A second cub was caught eight hours later when it left the woods to find its mother, he said.

The 195-pound sow and her two 50-pound male and female cubs were transported by boat to an undisclosed location south of town.

Barten said they try to catch the most active bears in populated areas.

"The sow and her cubs had been spotted throughout the week in the daytime, at night, on porches, breaking into sheds and into people's garbage," he said.

"We can pretty much assume from that they are not going to go away and the sow is teaching her cubs to be problem bears. Whole families of bears can be a problem."

After hearing of the first trapped bears, Barten said biologists waited until later in the morning to try to catch the second cub seen in the area.

"There's no point to trying to handle them at night," he said. "You don't know how many others there are and you don't want to run the risk of getting the sow mad at you."

At about 8 a.m. Barten and his assistant drugged the bears, reset the trap and waited for the second cub to come out of the woods looking for its mother. The mother and her wayward cub were reunited around 10 a.m., Barten said.

Switzer Village resident Donald Kirstine said he was pleased with the way Fish and Game handled the situation. He and other residents have formed a sort of neighborhood watch to protect their neighborhood not only from criminals but bears also.

Kirstine said short of killing bears, relocating them is the right thing to do.

"Used to be a bear got to be a problem somebody went out and took care of it and that was the end of the problem," he said. "I get nervous walking out of my back door I'm going to come face to face with a big bear. But I absolutely think they (the biologists) did the right thing."

Barten said Fish and Game is focusing its traps near Douglas Highway, Franklin Street, Gastineau Avenue and Valley Boulevard. Barten said the agency tries to relocate bears as little as possible because it doesn't have the time or funds to monitor them afterward.

"I'm sure the moves do affect them. You never know when you move an animal from an environment he knows to an environment he doesn't know whether he'll know how to find the food supply or if there will be other dominant animals in the area," Barten said.

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